Sacred Matters

Material Religion in South Asian Traditions

Edited by Tracy Pintchman & Corinne G. Dempsey

Subjects: Asian Religion And Philosophy
Paperback : 9781438459424, 244 pages, July 2016
Hardcover : 9781438459431, 244 pages, December 2015

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Table of contents

List of Illustrations

Tracy Pintchman

1. The Icon of Yoga: Patanjali as Nagaraja in Modern Yoga
Stuart Ray Sarbacker

2. God’s Eyes: The Manufacture, Installation, and Experience of External Eyes on Jain Icons
John E. Cort

3. North Indian Materialities of Jesus
Mathew N. Schmalz

4. Celebrating Materiality: Garbo, a Festival Image of the Goddess in Gujarat
Neelima Shukla-Bhatt

5. The Goddess’s Shaligrams
Tracy Pintchman

6. The Camphor Flame in an Age of Mechanical Reproduction
James McHugh

7. Metal Hands, Cotton Threads, and Color Flags: Materializing Islamic Devotion in South India
Afsar Mohammad

8. Monastic Matters: Bowls, Robes, and the Middle Way In South Asian Theravada Buddhism
Bradley Clough

9. Letting Holy Water and Coconuts Speak for Themselves: Tamil Catholicism and the Work of Selva Raj
Selva J. Raj and Corinne Dempsey

List of Contributors

Explores how objects shape the worlds of religious participants across a range of South Asian traditions.


Sacred Matters explores the lives of material objects in South Asian religions. Spanning a range of traditions including Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, Buddhism, and Christianity, the book demonstrates how sacred items influence and enliven the worlds of religious participants across South Asia and into the diaspora. Contributors examine a variety of objects to describe the ways sacred materials derive and confer meaning and efficacy, emerging from and giving shape to religious and nonreligious realms alike. Material forms of deity and divine power are considered along with commonplace ritual items, including images, clay pots, and camphor. The work also attends to materiality's complex role within the "materially suspicious" contexts of Islam, Theravada Buddhism, and Roman Catholicism. This engaging collection presents new frameworks for contemplating the ways in which historical, social, and sacred processes intertwine and collectively shape human and divine activity.

Tracy Pintchman is Professor of Religious Studies and Director of the International Studies Program at Loyola University Chicago. Her books include The Rise of the Goddess in the Hindu Tradition and Guests at God's Wedding: Celebrating Kartik among the Women of Benares, both published by SUNY Press. Corinne G. Dempsey is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Nazareth College. She is the author of Bringing the Sacred Down to Earth: Adventures in Comparative Religion and The Goddess Lives in Upstate New York: Breaking Convention and Making Home at a North American Hindu Temple.


"Sacred Matters is a short collection of disparate papers, but with the help of a pithy introduction and the concluding essay they cohere remarkably well … Sacred Matters invites perusal, and adds materially to the field. " — Journal of Hindu-Christian Studies