Kurochkin A. Y. Opyt germenevticheskogo podhoda k resheniju gnoseologicheskoj problemy interpretacii predmetov istoricheskogo oruzhija Indii kak veshhej-simvolov tradicionnoj kul’tury [An Attempt of Hermeneutic Approach to Solve a Problem, Concerning the Interpretation of Indian Historical Weapons as Signs-Objects of Traditional Culture]. Istoricheskoe oruzhievedenie [Weapons History Journal], № 8, pp. 93 — 134.

Kurochkin A. Y.

Abstract: The current research presents a bash, had at analyzes of historical weapons of India,  using the cohesive approach, which was proposed by scholars for studying objects, acting in the traditional cultures and having profound symbolic meaning alongside their utilitarian functions. Simultaneously, the very role of these objects and the range of their practical use are comprehended in terms of their ritual, ceremonial, cultic, and other ways of application, which were not the less practical in the traditional cultures.

Today the most common approach used for Indian weapons studying is still the one, which was formed to describe and somehow encyclopedize collections of arms and armour, picked up and arranged, mostly by chance, in the 19-20th century ether in India, or outside, not presuming any scientific purpose and not following the rules, necessary for ethnographical or anthropological research. Consequently, the classification and the general studying of arms and armour was initially organized as the plain describing of the collection of scattered objects, quoted out of cultural and quite often even historical context, far-fetchingly combined with disperse facts, taken from the accidental and sporadic accounts of travelers and officers. From the scientific point of view, they are of solely historical value.

To change this approach, the author uses the proven record of analyzes and interpretation of Indian written sources, towards which the same tendency of speculative study in the face of lacking their original idea and purpose perception was successfully moved beyond in the first half of the 20th century.

Resting on the main positions of the works by German philosophers, Schleiermacher and Gadamer, as well as by the soviet theorist of literature Y.M. Lotman and the Indologist V.S. Semenov, the author proposes to treat traditional Indian arms and armour as pieces of art (better artisan art) on the grounds of two approaches: semiotic and hermeneutic ones. The semiotic approach presumes the meaning to be made up on the analyzation of separate signs, which develop a common system and main idea of a text. The hermeneutic approach deals with the presentation of an object, its meaning and roles on using the interdependence of explanation and perception, the so-called hermeneutic cycle. It permits to understand how, depending on the way of analyzation, arms and armour could be used by its owner both as a status-marking object, suitable for wearing at the court, and a real weapon, performing ritual and ceremonial functions.

The author points to the cultural ideas, put in an object and treated by its owner differently, depending on a situation, to be an inherent part of the object and form its agency and individual position in the traditional culture, permitting it to act as an object-symbol, idea medium, and structural element of a culture tong, compensating for the lack of developed conceptual construct.  It is the functioning of object-symbol as a morphological item of a culture language in traditional society that permits applying the principles, used for the text studying and comprehending as a part of hermeneutic approach, to the analyzation of these particular objects.

Keywords: traditional culture, arms and armour of India, symbol, ritual weapon, ceremonial weapon.