Lessons from Hell Printing and Punishment in India

  • ISBN13:


  • ISBN10:


  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2018-04-20
  • Publisher: Marg Pubns

Note: Supplemental materials are not guaranteed with Rental or Used book purchases.

Purchase Benefits

  • Free Shipping On Orders Over $35!
    Your order must be $35 or more to qualify for free economy shipping. Bulk sales, PO's, Marketplace items, eBooks and apparel do not qualify for this offer.
  • Get Rewarded for Ordering Your Textbooks! Enroll Now
List Price: $69.95 Save up to $45.47
  • Rent Book $24.48
    Add to Cart Free Shipping


Supplemental Materials

What is included with this book?

  • The New copy of this book will include any supplemental materials advertised. Please check the title of the book to determine if it should include any access cards, study guides, lab manuals, CDs, etc.
  • The Rental copy of this book is not guaranteed to include any supplemental materials. Typically, only the book itself is included. This is true even if the title states it includes any access cards, study guides, lab manuals, CDs, etc.


• 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.

Author Biography

Christopher Pinney is Professor of Anthropology and Visual Culture at University College London. He has held visiting positions at the Australian National University (Canberra), University of Chicago, University of Cape Town, Northwestern University (Evanston, Illinois), Bogaziçi University (Istanbul), and Jagiellonian University (Krakow), among others. Among his publications are Camera Indica (1997), Photos of the Gods (2004), The Coming of Photography in India (2008) and Photography and Anthropology (2011). A book about mirages, The Waterless Sea, is forthcoming.

Rewards Program

Write a Review