Heidelberg, September 9 - 14, 2002
Panel 45 papers
Relations. Little Kings in Malabar
Analyzing the concept of rule in late 18th century Malabar, everything points in the direction that the rulers there acted as little kings. However, one major element of the model seems to be missing: the great king with whom the little kings maintained a mutual relationship to legitimate their rule Malabar did not have such an overlord since the 9th century. I will argue, that the model of the little kingdom nevertheless applies to Malabar as the little kings frequently referred to an imagined great king, whom I term a virtual great king. The context in which such a relationship could be established will be investigated in the paper.
and Place of a Little Kingdom Ranpur's Pancadolayatra
On the concluding day of Pancadolayatra (in March) 108 gods (Mahadeva or Krishna) convene on a large field at the northern end of Badadanda, the ritual axis of the town to pay homage to Maninagesvari, the tutelary goddess of the King. The gods are brought from villages within the kingdom's territory, they represent the totality of revenue villages with the subjects of the King. The divine gathering after fullmoon in spring has to be understood as a ritual of renewal: the 108 gods bear witness of the wellbeing and continuity of the kingdom.
and the Rebels: Kingship and Tribal Rebellion
The paper primarily attempts to map the nature of Kingship and traditional authority in the context of Keonjhar state of Orissa during the 19th century. It also explores into the Rebel consciousness of the Bhuyan tribals who sought to oppose the very authority in the shape of a rebellion. While dealing with these twin aspects, the paper focuses on the elements of reverence and assertion as reflected in the popular consciousness vis a vis Kingship.
Little Kingdom From Below. The Aghria as Local Gaunti or Village Headmen
The objective of my paper based on an on-going field research among the Aghria in Sambalpur-District of Orissa is to introduce the little kingdom of Bamra from the perspective of village headmen. The Aghria immigrated - most likely from a north-western direction - into a predominantly tribal area and became local headmen known as Gauntia forming the lowest administrative level of the kingdom. Apart from being landlords and justices of peace their main function was to collect the revenue for the King. Rights and obligations of Gauntia were fixed in deeds known as patta, which I would like to present here.
In addition to this internal administrative structure of Bamra state the ritual centrality of the headman most visible in his role as sacrificer for the whole village -, but also his role as agent of religious changes by building temples etc. will be elaborated. His economic significance in launching new methods and technologies such as intensive forms of agriculture, building ponds and developing new styles of architecture will be amplified too. Besides the role of the Gauntia-System in integrating castes as well as tribes into a regional culture will be addressed. A case in point is the way in which Gauntia used apparently tribal symbols to govern so-called khu Gauntia representing the authority of the headman in form of wooden posts and landlords reigning on behalf of them. Finally I would like to elaborate on questions of change or rather decline of Gauntia after abolition of the Gauntia-System at the time of Indian Independence.
Kingdoms under Indirect Rule
Analyses of the Hindu state generally go hand in hand with center-periphery geometries of power. Despite the admitted variety of tropes employed by historians and anthropologists to characterize precolonial Hindu polity -- segmentary, exemplary, theatrical, mandalic, processual, jajmanic, or theophanic, to name a few -- all are conceptualized in centrist terms of relations between king and local groups. This is no doubt due to the dominant concern with sovereignty and administration inscribed in surviving forms of historical evidence, which was generally the product of royal patronage -- archives, coins, epigraphy, architecture, religious texts, and monarchical ritual. But what alternative geometries of interaction characterized the midfield of power between center and periphery and, beyond that, the outfield of competition and conflict between royal centers and their cosmologies of legitimation? How and where should we look for evidence? While elite sources and orientalist thought may have obscured other spaces of historical Hindu political life, new approaches reveal unsuspected evidence. Based on multi-sited ethnography and archival research in the Simla Hills and neighboring parts of Jaunsar-Bawar and Garhwal, and using a cartographic approach to analysis, my paper complicates the category of the little kingdom by locating it in a scale of west Himalayan divine polities of varying size and rank, each ruled by a territorial tutelary god or goddess referred to as its king or queen. Frozen under British indirect rule, the precolonial political life of the region is reproduced in the travel movements of these royal divinities at contemporary local festivals called yatra. Paying close attention to the spacing, timing, and flow of power (Ñakti) defined by their processions in the festival round of the Bashahr kingdom, largest of the Simla Hill States, my presentation charts three distinct geometries of interaction (circumambulation, exchange networks, and central assembly) and their temporal sequence in the annual calendar. In this calendrical order, I shall argue, a complex Hindu geopolitics of local, royal, imperial, and cosmic formations is linked to an equally complex Hindu chronopolitics of festival cycles with periodicities from one to one hundred years by means of a military trope used in oracular discourse: the conquest of the year.
sacrificer state and sacrificial community: The relationship between
the little kingdom and the local society in eighteenth century Orissa
In this paper, I will try to understand the relationship between the little kingdom and local society in early modern Orissa. It is the time when the little kingdom increased its penetration and surveillance into local society. In the process, the local community became dependent upon the king as the source of legitimation for socio political order. The mechanism of "sacrifice" connected local community to the little kingdom. It was also the pivot around which the sense of duty, patriotism and devotion mutually supported each other to form the unit of regional identity.
and Genealogy in Medieval Western India
projected study is concerned with the particular medieval state formation
of Western India and its interconnection to certain elements of royal
legitimation of differential access to power. Especially interesting
in this respect is the development of genealogies. Western India here
comprises the group of states and lordships which were later called
the Rajput states from the 10th to the 15th century; the time between
the decline of the powerful early medieval dynasty of the Gurjara-Pratiharas
and the ascend of the Mughals. Two neighbouring areas within this
frame gain special focus, Mewar and Marwar, to the east and west of
the Aravalli mountains (today Southern Rajasthan). For a long time these
were peripheral to greater powers, especially the Caulukyas of Gujarat.
Later they aspired the status of independent great kingdoms, too.
But most of the time their size was modest, comprising of numerous larger
and smaller kingdoms and lordships, partly dependent on each other,
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