Hierarchy and Complementarity in Newar Society


  • Michael Allen


IN A NUMBER of important areas of Newar social life notions of complementarity and   status parity are accorded almost as much weight as are those of hierarchy   and inequality.' I here suggest that though the kind of hierarchy that   defines relations between the major sub-divisions of Newar society may be   described as of the 'pure' caste variety, that is to say, based on clearly   articulated notions of inherited ontological differences in human worth,   within such sub-divisions hierarchy approximates more closely to that found   typically in kin-based societies, that is to say, based on notions of   differential seniority, age and achievement. Hierarchy of this latter kind,   which derives primarily from the world of kinship and descent, differs   fundamentally from the 'pure' hierarchy of the caste variety. Whereas the   hierarchy of castes may be accurately described as a highly institutionalized   form of both ontological and social inequality, the kin-based variety also   incorporates notions of social equivalence and common ontology.