By Jeffrey G. Snodgrass
In response to 3 years of fieldwork within the Indian country of Rajasthan, Casting Kingsexplores the best way semi-nomadic performers referred to as Bhats comprehend, and in addition subvert, caste hierarchies. Bhats (literally, "Bards") now entertain numerous sponsors - village buyers, overseas travelers, city Rajasthanis, executive officers, and improvement specialists - with ballads and puppet performs detailing the exploits of Rajasthan's long-dead kings. every so often, Bhats recommend that their ancient wisdom and poetic abilities were inherited from royal ancestors who sang the praises and saved the genealogies of Rajasthan's former kings and princes. In different contexts, despite the fact that, Bhats affiliate themselves with Dalits - a time period reserved for India's former untouchables. As Jeffrey G. Snodgrass delves deeper into the complexities and contradictions of Bhat artwork and id - methodically and infrequently humorously peeling away layer after layer of deception to show the way within which Bhats use their legacy of bardic crafty to control previous and new buyers alike (the writer between them) - the complexities and contradictions of contemporary India are likewise published.
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Additional resources for Casting Kings: Bards and Indian Modernity
Now they pay for access to hotels, offering kickbacks to hotel managers and shopkeepers for anything earned or sold—in effect paying rent for shop space. It is not surprising that Bhats now refer to themselves as “businessmen” (using the English) but also as dalals—a term for merchant middlemen but also for pimps. It is also not surprising that Bhats do not reveal this side of their livelihood to tourists, who crave simple traditions rooted in the past. Even after I learned of this behind-the-scenes business, Bhats continued to insist on the traditional status of their art, asserting, rightfully, that innovation did not necessarily belie the ancient roots of an art form.
Jaipur, Rajasthan. 18 casting kings good and generous king, that they could get lots and lots of alms [dan] from him! So they loaded up all their belongings—their children, everything they had—and journeyed to Kach. The trip was long and arduous, and the bards became tired and sick on their journey. They almost died of hunger, and their horses in fact did die. Still they kept traveling, but it was such a long trip! After their horses died, they were forced to carry their belongings on their head, which made the trip even more painful and difﬁcult.
After additional probing, however, I learned from a carpenter outside the 14 casting kings Mass-produced Bhat puppets, which will be sold in Udaipur. Bhat community that Bhats did not traditionally make their own puppets. This carpenter was a talented woodworker employed by a folklore institute in Udaipur to manufacture art objects for its museum. Originally from Bassi, a village famous for its folk art that is about sixteen miles from Udaipur City and near Chittor, he made wooden toy animals such as horses and elephants, and also the kavad miniature cupboard that serves as a compact, transportable temple.