The Anthropology of Tacit Knowledge in the Domestic Mandala: A Case Study of Chhetris in the Kathmandu Valley
'For our house is our corner of the world ... it is our first universe, a real cosmos in every sense of the word.'
Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space
'We know more than we can tell.'
Michael Polanyi, The Tacit Dimension
The epigraphs encapsulate the two major themes of this paper. As Bachelard's quotation suggests, Chhetri houses are not simply functional places for everyday living. Instead, the house and its surrounding compound are also an encompassing cosmos in which Chhetris of the Kathmandu Valley dwell and come to understand its fundamental principles.1 In their everyday activities of preparing, cooking and eating rice, Chhetri Householders spatially configure their domestic compounds into mandalas-sacred diagrams that are simultaneously maps of the cosmos and machines for revealing the truth of cosmos as a fundamental unity. At the same time, such everyday dwelling in a domestic mandalas is productive of knowledge of the cosmos they represent.
Occasional Papers in Sociology and Anthropology Vol.11 2009 255-278