This study shows how myths construct and express the social identities of a community. Focusing on Rajasthan, it describes how myths here mostly centre around the theme of violence and its rejection. The social persona of the trading groups are created around this and hence issues of violence and its control emerge as the symbolic key to trader social identity in this cultural context.

Analyzing what myths have to say about traders, the author examines the nature of caste in general, as well as the specific place of trading castes in Indian society. Moreover he looks at the problems of the social identity of traders. By studying myths, the book shows how Indian trading groups have dealt with these problems by using symbolic material provided by their specific social and cultural milieu.

Finally the author looks at the role of myth itself as a repository of socially important knowledge.

Traders Victorious

Traders victorious

We have explored the social identity of Rajasthan's traders as expressed in myth. In the process, we have learned that those who follow the ways of trade must confront special problems of social self-definition. These problems, possibly arising in some form or another wherever business is pursued, stem ultimately from the socially ambiguous character of money itself, an ambiguity that emerges with particular clarity in societies not fully dominated by modern capitalist institutions. A comparative anthropology of the varied ways in which such problems are confronted cross-culturally has yet to be written. All that can be said with reasonable assurance is that the varied cultural milieus in which these problems are confronted are bound to affect profoundly the manner in which they ...

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