2 2 2013
Food, ritual and interspecies intimacy in the Chitwan elephant stables: a photo essay
This photo essay focuses on the hattisar, or elephant stable, a multispecies institution where humans and elephants live together in intimate and mutually entangled ways. The Nepali hattisar was historically staffed by the indigenous Tharu, who captured and tamed elephants for the rulers of Nepal for trade, for tribute, for use in agriculture, and for use in regal hunting expeditions (rastriya shikar). This essay illustrates the daily routines involved in feeding captive elephants in and around the Chitwan National Park, the sacrificial practices conducted by handlers, and the ways in which worshipful acts convert gifts into sacred food that bind handlers to both elephants and gods.
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