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Book review: Domestic mandala: architecture of lifeworlds in Nepal. By J. Gray. Aldershot: Ashgate. 2006. xvi + 163 pp. £45.00 hardback. ISBN 0 754 645 38 X


Bryden, Inga


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Abstract 282 Book reviewDomestic mandala: architecture of lifeworlds in Nepal. By J. Gray. Aldershot: Ashgate. 2006. xvi + 163 pp. £45.00 hardback. ISBN 0 754 645 38 X SAGE Publications, Inc.2008DOI: 10.1177/14744740080150020802 IngaBryden Faculty of Arts University of Winchester Domestic Mandala, part of a series linking anthropological theory, cultural history and religious studies, focuses on the cosmological significance of houses (traditional and modern) in the Kholagaun hamlet in the village of Banaspati, Kathmandu. The concept of homology is cen- tral to the discussion: the human body relates to the house as the house relates to the cosmos. The different spatial modalities of the house demonstrate this: the mandalic (concentric spaces around a centre) and yantric (cardinal directions and auspicious rituals) are under- pinned by the foundational myth of Purusha, the cosmic being integral to sacred geometry. Does Gray show that this system or philosophy is a conscious way of being for people, rather than an external construct imposed by the anthropologist? Utilizing excerpts and producing vignettes from fieldnotes, Gray reveals that the householders self-identify as having a lifestyle defined by dharma (which itself articulates the relation between an individ- ual's stage of life and worldly duty). Particularly interesting is the analysis of marriage rites which, it is argued, are ritual as performance. Indeed the notion of an embodied way of knowing is crucial to the argument that truth is made manifest through paradoxical attachment and detachment. That is, the process of building, the configuration of the built form, and everyday domestic activities are revelatory. Gray highlights the importance of boundaries to Nepalese thinking, and ideas of purity and impurity are key here. Disembodied ghosts haunt liminal spaces, while women external to the family might be perceived as a potential threat to the house. Moreover, conceptions of pure and impure affect everyday rituals such as the preparation of rice, in terms of physical location and participants. Ultimately, Gray is concerned with how to express, in an analytic ethnography, what he terms the `lifeworld', the unspoken dimension of social life.
Publikationsjahr 2008
Seitenangabe S. 282-282
Zeitschriftentitel Cultural Geographies, 15 (2008) 2
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/14744740080150020802
Status Postprint; begutachtet (peer reviewed)
Lizenz PEER Licence Agreement (applicable only to documents from PEER project)