New Book: Masquerades in the Himalayas

couverture-MascaradesMasquerades in the Himalayas : the virtues of laughter

An original and beautifully illustrated book by Pascale Dollfus and Gisèle Krauskopff is out:

With its lively skeletons and walking dead, ancient bawdy characters and pregnant old women, buffoons with their inflated virility and asinine ascetics, exorcism rites and theatrical comics, this book — penned by two authors — lavishes on these shows performed by masked or made-up characters all the attention they deserve. Can Himalayan celebrations and rituals be understood without taking a close look at the masquerades, the charivaris and the grotesque scenes that so often accompany them and lend meaning to them?
Laughter has never been studied in-depth in this region of the world. From being constantly brushed aside, this whole vital section of traditional life in the Himalayas has been overlooked.
From the high valleys of Ladakh situated on the border with Tibet to the remote plains of Assam, from the little known villages of Arunachal Pradesh to the bazaars of Nepal, these masquerades and their masks — too often relegated to mere entertainment — are boundary objects that bring out the unsuspected virtues of derision and obscenity.

Both Pascale Dollfus and Gisèle Krauskopff — anthropologists at CNRS and authors of several books — have a long experience of fieldwork in the Himalayas. For the last five years they have been working together on how “tribal” artefacts from the Himalayas circulate, on how they are transformed and end up in collections.

(From the dust-jacket.)

Mascarades en Himalaya. Les vertus du rire
Pascale DOLLFUS & Gisèle KRAUSKOPFF, Editions Findakly, 2014.
ISBN 978-2-86805-149-3
Format: 21 x 27 cm, 256 pages


Nicolas Sihlé

Nicolas Sihlé, a sociocultural anthropologist, is researcher at the Center for Himalayan Studies, a research unit of the National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) based in Villejuif (France). He specializes on Tibetan religion and society, and is the author of Rituels bouddhiques de pouvoir et de violence : La figure du tantriste tibétain [Buddhist rituals of power and violence : The figure of the Tibetan tantrist] (Brepols, 2013). His current work focuses on post-Mao socioreligious transitions in and around the famous communities of non-monastic specialists of tantric Buddhism in northeast Tibet (Amdo), and more generally on the comparative anthropology of Buddhism.

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