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Medusa's Hair : an Essay on Personal Symbols and Religious Experiences (81 Edition)

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Medusa's Hair : an Essay on Personal Symbols and Religious Experiences (81 Edition) Cover

 

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Publisher Comments:

The great pilgrimage center of southeastern Sri Lanka, Kataragama, has become in recent years the spiritual home of a new class of Hindu-Buddhist religious devotees. These ecstatic priests and priestesses invariably display long locks of matted hair, and they express their devotion to the gods through fire walking, tongue-piercing, hanging on hooks, and trance-induced prophesying.

The increasing popularity of these ecstatics poses a challenge not only to orthodox Sinhala Buddhism (the official religion of Sri Lanka) but also, as Gananath Obeyesekere shows, to the traditional anthropological and psychoanalytic theories of symbolism. Focusing initially on one symbol, matted hair, Obeyesekere demonstrates that the conventional distinction between personal and cultural symbols is inadequate and naive. His detailed case studies of ecstatics show that there is always a reciprocity between the personal-psychological dimension of the symbol and its public, culturally sanctioned role. Medusa's Hair thus makes an important theoretical contribution both to the anthropology of individual experience and to the psychoanalytic understanding of culture. In its analyses of the symbolism of guilt, the adaptational and integrative significance of belief in spirits, and a host of related issues concerning possession states and religiosity, this book marks a provocative advance in psychological anthropology.

Table of Contents

Preface

Introduction

Part One

Introduction

Private and Public Symbols

The Problem

Female Ascetics and Matted Hair

Three Female Ascetic-Ecstatics

Case 1: Karunavati Maniyo

Case 2: Nandavati Maniyo

Case 3: Manci Nona

The Meaning of Hair

The Yogi and the Monk: Siva and the Buddha: Matted Hair and Shaven Head

Social Institutions and the Unconscious

Matted Hair and Shaven Head: Two Kinds of Pscyhological Symbolism

Conventionalization of Personal Symbols

Part Two

Introduction

The Dark Night of the Soul: Illustration and Psychocultural Exegesis

Case 4: Pemavati Vitarana

Juliet's Dilemma: Buddhist Asceticism or Hindu Devotionalism

Case 5: Juliet Nona

The Symbolization of Guilt

The Symbolic Integration of Personality

Part Three

Introduction

Interpersonal Interaction and Personal Symbols

Case 6: Munasinha Beauty Silva

Myth Models

Communication and Estrangement

Networks of Meaning

Ghosts, Demons, and Deep Motivation

Part Four

Introduction

Descent into the Grave

Case 7: Sirima Hettiaracci

Subjective Imagery: An Interpretation of Sirima's Case History

Tryst with the Black Prince: Incubus and Fire Walker

A Hook Hanger at Kataragama

Case 8: Tuan Sahid Abdin

Comment on Abdin's Ritual Activities

Abdin's Descent into the Grave

A Ritual for Kali

Abdin's Tongue: An Interpretation

Fantasy and Symbolism in the Integration of Personality with Culture

Fantasy, Personal Symbols, and Subjective Imagery: A Metapsychological Excursus

Part Five

Introduction

Subjective Imagery and the Invention of Culture

Culture and the Unconscious: The Case of Contemporary Iconography

The Model for the Myth

Epilogue: The End of the Beginning

Notes

Glossary

References

Index

Product Details

ISBN:
9780226616018
Author:
Obeyesekere, Gananath
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
Subject:
General
Subject:
Literature
Subject:
Folklore & Mythology
Subject:
Sociology of Religion
Subject:
Experience (religion)
Subject:
Sociology of Religion x
Subject:
SOC039000
Subject:
Religion Western-Social and Political Issues
Edition Description:
Paperback
Publication Date:
19840931
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
Professional and scholarly
Language:
English
Illustrations:
9 halftones
Pages:
232
Dimensions:
8.5 x 5.5 in

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Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Anthropology » Asia
History and Social Science » Anthropology » Cultural Anthropology
History and Social Science » Politics » United States » Foreign Policy
Religion » Eastern Religions » General
Religion » Western Religions » Social and Political Issues

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