Building an Iconic Body

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This was shot inside the little akhara (gymnasia) which is lost in the fields near Sakalhida, a village in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.
This pelhwan (Indian wrestler) was practising with joris which are swung like gadas but they come in pairs weighing between ten and forty kilograms each.

Joris are often decorated with colorful designs, and many akharas have special pairs which are brought out only on such occasions as Nag Panchami and Guru Puja.
In contrast to gadas (weighted club used for exercise), joris are named the “white pair,” the “shiny ones,” the “thorny ones,” the “flowery ones,” the “mountainous ones” (many are named after a particular person who either made them, commissioned them to be made or swung them the most number of times).
While gadas have clear phallic qualities, joris symbolize breasts (recognizing, of course, that breast and phallic symbols are highly mutable and multivocal to the point of being almost interchangeable).
Not only do joris come in pairs, they are also swung from an inverted position with the wrestler holding firmly onto the titlike handle-grip as though he were milking a cow or buffalo.
If churning is the dominant metaphor of swinging a gada, milking is associated with swinging a pair of joris.
(“The Wrestler’s Body: Identity and Ideology in North India” by Joseph S. Alter)

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