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Lessons from Hell Printing and Punishment in India

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Lessons from Hell Printing and Punishment in India by Pinney, Christopher, 9789383243204
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  • ISBN: 9789383243204 | 9383243201
  • Cover: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 4/20/2018
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• The first study of an important popular print genre

• Connects popular prints with political history and current Indian politics

• Vividly documents the fascination and repulsion provoked by images of punishment

This book documents the growth of printed images of punishments in hell in 19th- and 20th-century India. It explores what happens when new technologies of image reproduction collide with very deep cultural traditions. It traces the sources of the iconography and formal visual structures that found new expression in late 19th-century chromolithographs showing deeds and their punishments. These prints, often known as karni bharni, remain part of a living tradition, being still commercially produced by several presses.

Jain iconography provided one of the routes to visualizing the punishments listed in the Garuda Purana within a visual grid established by gyan chaupar or the "chess of knowledge". Style and form remained in many respects remarkably stable over the last century and a half but the political concerns of the genre changed from a vegetarian code reinforcing conventional high-caste Hindu patriarchy and morality to a concern with the obligations of the citizen. A parallel genre of Good Habits and Bad Habits (together with educational charts on duties to village and nation) reflected an Emergency-era co-option of karni bharni's key idioms in the interests of the state. Twenty-first-century pastiches satirize the ideological positions in these popular images.

Contents: Acknowledgements; Introduction; The Oldest of Archives; "Atrocious Representations of Scenes of Hell"; Myth, Play and Pedagogy; Short Notes on Heaven; Printing in India; Verticality and the "Public"; Puranic Origins; Colonial Hell; Indian Hells in a Global Context; The Architecture of Hell; Yampats; The Mechanics of Mimesis; Dalit Critiques; The History of Hell; Celluloid Hell; Mimesis as Infection; From Karni Bharni to Ideal Boy; The Politics of Karni Bharni; Notes; Index.

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