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Title: Display
Author: Gaskell, Ivan
Citation: Gaskell, Ivan. 2011. Display. Material Religion: The Journal of Objects, Art and Belief 7, no. 1: 34–40.
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Abstract: The display of religious objects takes many forms. While sculpture on the exterior of religious buildings is visible for the long term, relics, cult images, and masquerades are shown only occasionally. One way of emphasizing the potency of an object is to reveal it infrequently. In many religious systems display is restricted, for some things are dangerous to inappropriate viewers, while others are too powerful to be seen by anyone. When access is possible, viewers value intimate encounter, usually drawing as close as possible to sacred objects. Some are small enough to be worn as amulets close to the body. On ceremonial occasions, such as processions or masquerades, devotees may compete for the privilege of carrying sacred objects. Access is usually hierarchically privileged or controlled. Those with hieratic functions—priests, elders, shamans, vow-makers, museum curators—usually enjoy the most intimate access to sacred materials, whether displayed or concealed. Priests often have exclusive access to parts of a sacred structure containing numinous materials, and museum donors pay for the privilege of exhibition tours with curators during closed hours. Intimacy of access signals status, and display reinforces social distinctions and hierarchies. However, to reduce the display of sacred material to this function alone would be misleading. The three case studies that follow—all set in Trafalgar Square, London—illustrate the variety of associations that sacred objects can have, even when displayed within yards of each other.
Published Version: doi:10.2752/175183411X12968355481890
Terms of Use: This article is made available under the terms and conditions applicable to Other Posted Material, as set forth at http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:dash.current.terms-of-use#LAA
Citable link to this page: http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:12712847
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