This collection of essays deals with the rituals of kingship and royalty in India, Africa and Europe from the social anthropological and ethnohistorical points of view. It discusses the dialectical entanglements of rituals conducted for and by kings (including, ‘little kings’ and ‘jungle kings’) with the wider social, political, cultural, historical, religious and economic contexts in which they were embedded.
Part I begins with a triangular comparison of kingship among the Shilluks of East Africa, the Gajapatis of eastern India and kings in Renaissance France. The essay entitled the ‘King’s Three Bodies’ makes use of Ernst H. Kantorowicz’s classical study, The King’s Two Bodies in medieval political theology and extends it, not only in terms of the numbers of bodies that are found to be significant, but also theoretically. Another significant essay in this part looks at the unexpected but significant theoretical impact of social anthropological studies of acephalous, segmentary lineage societies in Africa on Indian historiography. The second part of this volume consists of three chapters dealing with the royal patronage of tribal and Hindu goddesses in Eastern India, while the third part presents studies on sleeping (and dreaming) kings and on the power of dead kings, a discussion of A.M. Hocart’s dictum that the first kings must have been dead kings.
About the Author
Burkhard Schnepel is Professor of Social Anthropology at the Martin Luther University in Halle, Germany. His main theoretical and thematic interests are political rituals in India, especially in Orissa, and the history of the Indian Ocean world, especially Mauritius. Among his more recent books are Connectivity in Motion: Small Islands in the Indian Ocean World (Palgrave 2018, co-edited with E.A. Alpers) and Travelling Pasts: The Politics of Cultural Heritage in the Indian Ocean World (Brill 2019, co-edited with Tansen Sen).