This innovative multidisciplinary study, which draws on anthropology, architecture and ethno-archaeology, focuses on the inhabitants and dwellings of a royal village in central Karnataka, only a short distance away from the ruins of Vijayanagara. The volume presents a detailed survey of over fifty houses, ranging from simple one- roomed dwellings to elaborate mansions inhabited by the descendants of the ruling house of Anegondi. More than one hundred annotated drawings illustrate room arrangements, showing how domestic space is used by the occupants, as well as architectural details of building exteriors and interiors.
The inhabitants believe that Anegondi is located within Kishkindha, the monkey kingdom mentioned in the Ramayana. Many local sites are associated with those mentioned in this epic. Connections with the past empire of Vijayanagara are still preserved at Anegondi: remains of imperial structures are scattered throughout the village. This volume looks at how people use and understand mythic, historical and present day space through the built forms of their homes and village and also through their pilgrimages to nearby shrines and sacred sites.
Dr. Natalie Tobert is Associate Lecturer with the Open University and the Richmond Upon Thames College. Previously a curator at London's Horniman Museum, she produced a popular exhibition on Indian Village Life, accompanied by a catalogue which featured many photographs of Anegondi. She has published two books, and numerous articles on material culture, architecture, health and spirituality.
Graham Reed, the illustrator responsible for the drawings and maps, currently works in London.
ANEGONDI is located in the southern Indian state of Karnataka, on the banks of the Tungabhadra river at a point where it makes a turn northwards. Such a direction of flow is unusual and highly auspicious to Hindus, and so the river bank here is considered a holy spot and a place of prayer. Many pilgrims visit the area, and coracles convey them from place to place along the river. The village occupants are from all social and economic groups and include priests, royalty, businessmen, farm laborers and street sweepers. Many occupants are farmers, cultivating the fertile black cotton soil in the valleys and plains between the hills. To this day they benefit from the stone irrigation channels built by the kings of Vijayanagara in the fourteenth to sixteenth centuries. While the imposing ruins of this medieval capital lie to the south of the river, vestiges of the period can also be seen in Anegondi, sometimes combined with earlier, pre-Vijayanagara period elements.
Historical links with Vijayanagara also exist between Anegondi and Vijayanagara. The present-day ruler, Achyuta Deva Raya, claims descent from the kings of Vijayanagara: men from the Bedaru (warrior caste) claim that their forefathers were foot-soldiers of the emperor Krishna Deva Raya in the sixteenth century. Those descending from the ancient kings are given a certain status, and they do retain some ritual and religious privileges.
Anegondi means elephant pit: ane means elephant while gundi means pit. The elephant pit is identified as an area of water beyond the northern river-side steps of the village where it is deep enough for elephants to wash. Many sites nearby are mentioned in the Ramayana epic: Anegondi lies within the region of the monkey kingdom of Kishkindha, and the birthplace of Hanuman, the monkey hero, is identified with Anjaneya Parvata, a hill to the west of the village.
This monograph looks at how the inhabitants of Anegondi us and understand space in their own homes and within the village, visiting monuments and shrines for religious purposes. The work is multi-disciplinary, touching on the fields of ethnography, architecture and archaeology. It is intended to complement the work of Sugandha (1986) and the surveys of scholars currently working on the Vijayanagara Research Project, and to provide a stimulus for those wishing to conduct further research in the area. The main subject is the domestic housing and material culture found in the village of Anegondi. The volume is set out in two sections: Part One surveys the historical, social, religious and architectural context of Anegondi; Part Two consists of a catalogue of houses. These are followed by a set of appendices.
Chapter One introduces the village and describes the settlement layout, including the river, roads, market and burial grounds, as well as the village administration and the local governmental system. Ancient structures are examined briefly in the hope that this monograph will stimulate scholars to develop a greater interest in the history of Anegondi, and its relationship to the capital city of Vijayanagara just across the Tungabhadra.
Chapter Two presents brief details of caste, life cycle and economy, in order to provide an understanding of the people living in and around Anegondi. The castes which make up the village population are set out, and the many families with links to the royal lineage are presented. Occasional case studies are introduced to illustrate a particular marriage or death ceremony. Chapter Three on worship illustrates how villagers use the ancient monuments of Vijayanagara for religious purposes and pilgrimage. Case studies of various festivities are presented. A listing is also given of some of the religious buildings in and around Anegondi. Religious customs are set out which relate to the devotion of deities like Vishnu, Siva and the Goddess, and to daily practice in the home. The myths and legends that abound in relation to the site are mentioned, in particular those about the goddess Pampa and the Kishkindha chapter in the Ramayana.
Chapter Four sets out the elements of house design and construction, and the way space is defined in vernacular dwellings. The survey was undertaken to illustrate a cross section of house types from all levels of society: those of extended and nuclear families, various castes, religions and economies. In each house where permission had been given to work, occupants were asked about the number of families living in the dwelling, their caste, occupation and kinship relations. Each dwelling was measured and photographed so that isometric drawings could be produced. The use of features and artifacts within a household was recorded. Social, historical and economic factors which affect the 'wide variation in house design, layout and construction are suggested in the final section.
The catalogue of house forms and room functions constitutes the main body of fieldwork undertaken at Anegondi. Over 50 houses have been described, varying from single-room dwellings to mansions occupied by descendants of the ruling lineage. A concordance of house types with the religion, cast and occupation of the inhabitants, a kinship chart for each house, a chronological summary, and a glossary of Indian terms are appended to the catalogue.
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