Object, subject, thing

Tamil Hindu priests’ material practices and practical theories of animation and accommodation
Open access article

by SOUMHYA VENKATESAN

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Tamil Hindu priests transform anthropomorphic clay and stone statues into materially present gods who are alive, aware, and corporeally active. These embodied deities are humanlike but not human, which makes them both a rich resource for human‐divine interactions and a source of discomfort, given their potency and uncanny expressiveness. As a material practice, Hindu animation has its own material logics and technologies, practical theories, and ongoing practices of care. The embodied divinities of Hinduism can thus be brought into conversation with nonreligious animated things, such as humanoid robots. Indeed, Hindu priests’ practices of animation and their accommodations to their embodied divinities might open up different modes of engagement with nonreligious animated things. [animation, material transformations, practical theories, human‐thing accommodations, embodiment, gods and priests, ritual, Hinduism, Tamil Nadu, India]