UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Creators and consecrators : a potter community of South India Inglis, Stephen Robert


This thesis presents the first extended ethnographic account of a potter community in India. The research material which is presented and analysed was gathered during 1979-1980 in the South Indian state of Tamil Natu. The cultural context of the craftwork of the potters is described and interpreted through a detailed study of a potter community. The central aim of this thesis is to demonstrate, through an investigation of cultural meaning, the ways in which the diverse aspects of the potters' craft are bound together. An attempt is made to demonstrate how the potters' work of pot making, image making, and priestly service all address a single core of the ideas and how these are deeply rooted in a more general pattern of Indian belief about existence. The special skill of potters to manifest these ideas, and the role of their craft in helping to regenerate and sustain them is discussed. The interpretation and analysis presented in this thesis is informed by a number of sources: the views expressed by potters and those of people who utilize their services, sources on Indian history and ethnology, and those on the study of art in anthropology. The thesis presents an analysis of one of the most ancient and broadly-based craft traditions in India and interprets its cultural meaning in South Indian life.

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