Food, ritual and interspecies intimacy in the Chitwan elephant stables: a photo essay

  • Piers Locke Department of Anthropology School of Social and Political Sciences University of Canterbury

Abstract


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.

Author Information

Piers Locke, Department of Anthropology School of Social and Political Sciences University of Canterbury
I am a social anthropologist at the University of Canterbury specialising in the history and anthropology of Nepal, human-elephant relations, biodiversity conservation, ecotourism, and protect area management.
Published
04-Jun-2013
How to Cite
Locke, P. (2013, June 4). Food, ritual and interspecies intimacy in the Chitwan elephant stables: a photo essay. The South Asianist, 2(2). Retrieved from http://www.southasianist.ed.ac.uk/article/view/82