This book is the first to describe in detail a community of potters working for the Jagannatha Temple in Puri, and to explore how the role of temple servant affects the potters' understanding of their work and of themselves. As a pilgrimage centre of national importance, supported by the patronage of successive regional dynasties and by fervent popular belief, the Jagannatha Temple requires earthenware in great quantities for the creation and distribution of the sacred food that is an integral feature of daily ritual and pilgrimage. Three hundred potters participate as temple servants in maintaining the temple's ritual cycle by performing their divinely assigned task. This study, conducted in 1979-1981, observes the potters' technical prowess, sustained by devotion, but also examines the tensions within their relationships to more powerful temple servants and authorities. The role of the potter as temple servant is at once glorious, as demonstrated by texts and personal interpretations of the potters' divinely-appointed service, and pathetic, as shown in the brutality of caste-based hierarchy and cash-based exchange penetrating the modern temple's daily operations.
Phyllis G. Tortora is a Professor Emerita at Queens College, USA, where she was Department Chair for 17 years, teaching historic costume and furnishings, and textiles. She has also served as a consultant to the Historic Costume Collection of the Huntington Historical Society.
Ingrid Johnson is a Full Professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), USA, where she has been Chair and a member of the Textile Development and Marketing Department as well as acting vice president for academic affairs for the institution and acting chair of the Home Products Department. With more than 30 years of experience in the textile industry, Johnson has lectured both in the United States and internationally and is frequently sought by the media to offer commentary on textiles and industry trends, including Money Line with Lou Dobbs, the Wall Street Journal, Wired, and Glamour magazines, NPR, Martha Stewart Radio and others.
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