Wrestling Tournaments and the Body's Recreation

Joseph S. Alter

in The Wrestler's Body

Published by University of California Press

Published in print August 1992 | ISBN: 9780520076976
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520912175 | DOI:
Wrestling Tournaments and the Body's Recreation

Show Summary Details


Indian wrestling dangals may be read as texts. They are interpretive templates that provide a framework for making sense of cultural experience. However, while the cockfight is a studied microcosm of “things Balinese”—status, honor, propriety, hierarchy, masculinity, and antibestiality—the dangal seems to defy any like characterization for the Indian scene. The cockfight seems to elaborate meaning through the operation of symbolic dramatization. Dangals, on the other hand, seem to strip meaning down to essentials, to first principles. Building on this theme, this chapter offers an interpretation of the dangal in order to explain what it says about wrestling in particular and also about Hindu society in India. Set against the textured aesthetic of the akhara; the intricate regime of day-to-day life; the charged relationship between patron, guru, and wrestler; and the symbolic world brought to life on Nag Panchami, the dangal is a one-dimensional, abbreviated event.

Keywords: wrestling; dangals; cockfight; Balinese; akhara; patron; guru; wrestler; India; Nag Panchami

Chapter.  13710 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Anthropology

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.