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Afghanistan

(3,022 words)

Author(s): Hutter, Manfred
The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan has a population of about 30 million. Next to the dominating Sunni Islam, there is a considerable Šīʿa minority of about 15% of the population. The non-Muslims in Afghanistan also include Hindus and Sikhs, but the total number of them in 2012 is only a guess and varies widely. Some sources calculate that there might be only 500 Sikhs and Hindus, others say there might be 1,100 Hindus and 4,900 Sikhs, or even more in recent years (Ballard, 2011, 9, 21-22). Geo…
Date: 2019-01-30

Vietnam

(2,926 words)

Author(s): Hutter, Manfred
While the main religious traditions in Vietnam focus on Sino-Vietnamese Buddhism and Confucianism; Roman Catholicism as a result of the French colonial rule; and more recent religions like Protestantism, Cao Dai or Hoa Hao Buddhism, and the veneration of Ho Chi Minh (see Taylor, 2007, 11f.), we also find two different groups of Hindus, which make up less than 0.1% of the country’s total population. On the one hand, this small group of Hindus living among people of other religions may signify the…
Date: 2019-01-30

Austria

(2,800 words)

Author(s): Hutter, Manfred
There have been contacts between Austria and the Indian subcontinent since the early 20th century, when some Indian students came mainly to Vienna. But these contacts were rather limited and remained restricted to individuals. When in 1963 an Austrian-Indian cultural society was established, some exchange in the fields of arts and music started, followed up by the creation of associations such as the World Malayalee Council, Kerala Cultural Society, and the Association of Nepalese in Austria. Be…
Date: 2019-01-30

Burma/Myanmar

(4,219 words)

Author(s): Hutter, Manfred
Legendary traditions say that contact between Burma and India already existed in the 3rd century BCE, when the Buddhist ruler Aśoka sent his missionaries to Suvarṇabhūmi (“Golden Land”), a part of Lower Burma, in order to spread Buddhism. This legend has twofold historical information, showing that Buddhism has always been more important than Hinduism in the process of “Indianization” of Burma and that the earliest contact between India and Burma had been established in Lower Burma. But such an…
Date: 2019-01-30

Thailand II

(3,268 words)

Author(s): Hutter, Manfred
Hindus in Thailand can be traced back to two very different origins – the old and very small group of Thai Brahmans and the more recent group of Hindus of Indian origin who started to migrate to Thailand in the middle of the 19th century. The exact number of Hindus living in Thailand today is only a guess; some say that there might be 100,000 Hindus among Thailand’s total population of 69 million, but other numbers are lower (compare Malik, 2003; Mani, 1993, 911; Poolthupya, 2008, 670; The Indian Diaspora, 2002, 269–270). About 75% of them live in Bangkok; the others concentrate in …
Date: 2019-01-30

Germany

(3,071 words)

Author(s): Hutter, Manfred
At the end of the first decade of the 21st century, approximately 67,000 people of Indian origin lived in Germany with a German passport, and about 43,000 Indian citizens. Such data can only be a general estimate, because people who originally came as Tamil refugees from Sri Lanka or as “Indians” from Afghanistan are sometimes also included in such numbers. Another inaccuracy appears as persons of the second and partly already the third generation of migrants from the Indian subcontinent are inc…
Date: 2019-01-30

Grave/Tomb

(558 words)

Author(s): Hutter, Manfred
The grave or tomb is a place of repose for the dead, and a station along their journey. It has (1) the character of a defense in their regard, inasmuch as it preserves them from desecration by persons, from devastation by animals or natural catastrophes, and from hurtful assaults by demons: inscriptions or protective symbols reinforce this aspect. It has (2) a function of security for the living: the dead are kept in the tomb lest, frightening and terrorizing, they be able to penetrate the realm…

Manichaeism

(1,143 words)

Author(s): Hutter, Manfred
1. Manichaeism is a vanished world religion that once extended from Western Europe to China. Often simplistically attached to ‘Gnosis’ (→ Gnosticism), Manichaeism was a major threat to the early Christian church, and many misrepresentations are the result of interreligious conflicts. The dark ‘Manichean vision of the world,’ for instance, is a travesty concocted by the religion's conquerors, who themselves received more from it than they admitted. Mani 2. a) Although Manicheans themselves referred to their ‘church’ (Gk, ekklesia) as “Religion of Light,” as ‘Manichaeism’ t…

Baha'i

(1,121 words)

Author(s): Hutter, Manfred
Baha'i Today 1. The Baha'i religion rests on traditions of Iranian Islamic history of religion, as well as on interweavings with the more ancient revelatory religions Judaism, Christianity, and Zoroastrianism. Thus, its type is that of a monotheistic prophetical religion. The cultural conditions of its appearance in Islamic Iran in the nineteenth century weigh upon relations between the Islamic world and Baha'i to this day. At present the religion extends across the globe, with some 6.5 million …

Funeral/Burial

(1,330 words)

Author(s): Hutter, Manfred
1. a) The purpose of a funeral is not only the ritual removal of the corpse, but also the ritual defeat or management of the experience of death and separation. The funeral ritual fulfills several functions in these categories. With reference to the dead, it excludes them, and sets them in their new context (the smoke of the funeral pyre indicates the route of the soul to the beyond; the grave marks the departed one's new residence and abode). But it can also render the memory of the dead a public affair, or account for the…

Death and Dying

(4,726 words)

Author(s): Hutter, Manfred
Death as a Boundary Rejected 1. a) Death and human attitudes that are to be observed in connection with it, underlie a transformation. Death concerns all human beings. The precise entry of death, and ‘life’ thereafter, has its own meaning for every culture. The scientific biological connections, the ‘itinerary’ of death, are, of course, available to documentation: Western school medicine can describe the gradation between clinical death as cessation of the circulation of the blood, as brain death, an…

Death (Personification of)

(1,333 words)

Author(s): Hutter, Manfred
1. “We must defeat death!” Arrogant illusion of an immortality to be achieved by technology? Surely. But out of the mouth of someone who is ill, it can express the conceptualization of death as a person attempting to lay hands on his victim and can lend courage for the battle against death and dying. That God will defeat death as ‘the last enemy’ is a religious proposition with a long pre-Christian history. This mythological figure is the subject that we here seek to address: death as a person. In the process of death and dying, physical death marks a caesura that can be variously …

Amulet

(353 words)

Author(s): Hutter, Manfred
By way of the French or the Italian, the words ‘amulet’ (Arab., hammālāt, ‘necklace’) and ‘talisman’ (arab., tilsamān, ‘magical images’) were adopted in European languages in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The character of the amulet tends rather to be protective and resistant (apotropaic), while that of the talisman is more positive and fortifying. The quality of an amulet, to be sure, depends on the ‘material’ (precious stones, noble metals, rare minerals, or striking appearance), but such quality is…

Moon

(1,832 words)

Author(s): Hutter, Manfred
[German Version] I. History of Religion – II. Archaeology I. History of Religion Owing to its high degree of observability, the moon (like the sun and Venus; cf. constellations, astrology, astral religion) plays an important role in various mythological traditions. Analogies to cosmological processes and to the sequence of life/fecundity and death were seen in the alternation of the lunar phases, but they also served as a paradigm for calendrical cycles (Calendar). The dates of the new moon and of the full…

Divine Messengers

(394 words)

Author(s): Hutter, Manfred
[German Version] Divine messages may be imparted to human beings in a non-personal way (e.g. through omens, dreams) or through (semi-)divine beings or angels. Divine messengers are “religious border crossers” for they can cross the boundaries between the terrestrial-human and the extraterrestrial-divine cosmos; in this respect, angels in Judaism, Christianty and Islam also rank …

Gods, Groups of

(481 words)

Author(s): Hutter, Manfred
[German Version] Gods, Groups of, in the history of religions. The assembly of individual gods into a group of gods serves to structure polytheistic panthea (Pantheon: I) and results from cosmological classification or priestly-theological speculation. Frequently, groups of gods are arranged binarily, triadically or according to some other simple number (dyads e.g.: heaven/earth; triads: heaven/earth/sea, sun/moon/morning star). Additional criteria for the assembly of gods include: (fictive) genea…

Hunters/Hunting Rites

(1,595 words)

Author(s): Hutter, Manfred
[German Version] I. Definition – II. Distribution –III. Ideological Backgrounds – IV. Hunting as Life-Preserving Killing – V. Economic Change and the Continuation of Ritual I. Definition The hunter's task comprises the tracking down, trapping, and killing of free-living animals that are used for nourishment within the hunter's own society. In ideal/typical form, ethnology categorizes hunters, with hunter-gatherers and planters, as the simple economic forms. More developed are the means of production of agriculture an…

Rain

(352 words)

Author(s): Hutter, Manfred
[German Version] The value accorded to rain is related to whether cultures practice agriculture based on irrigation or on rain. There may be a focus either on preventing uncontrolled flooding that destroys growth, or on anxiety lest there be no rain, and on desire for rain. Rain is seen as a gift of mountain and weather gods (e.g. in the Near East, where YHWH, too, displays traits of such gods; Indra in the Vedic pantheon [Vedic and Brahmanic religion]; Chac or Tlaloc [Aztec religion: V] in Centra…

Nomads

(476 words)

Author(s): Hutter, Manfred
[German Version] Ideally, nomads are defined as living off the yield of their flocks and herds; they therefore move about as shepherds in response to climatic conditions, which dominate their animal husbandry, their livelihood, and their worldview. Pure nomadism is (or was) found primarily in three geographical regions. 1. The (semi)nomadic peoples of northern Eurasia (Finno-Ugrian religions) adapt to clear seasonal changes, with transhumance in the spring and fall. The basis of their livelihood is raising reindeer (Saami, Samoyeds, Evenk) or …

Statistics, Religion Adherence

(845 words)

Author(s): Hutter, Manfred
[German Version] In the first instance, religious statistics report the data that provide information on the local or global distribution of individual religions or religious groups. They are one aspect of a larger “religiometrics,” which includes all measurable factors associated with religion (e.g. sacred buildings, production of religious books and media, endowments) in order to take these quantitative values into account in interpreting religious phenomena or developments. “Counting procedures” in the context of religion go back to the dawn of the 1st millennium bce, if Da…
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