“The Anthropology of Manners” by Edward T. Hall is really a very useful reading to understand what and how do we humans behave and deal with others. Moroever, it also can be learnt how to behave. The main theme of this essay is maintaining manners with respect to time and space. It is important to have good manners because it plays vital role in getting closer or farther than the people. Often it is said that first impression is the last impression. In order to maintain good impression on others, we should be able to make the first impression good. To present oneself in front of others is an easy task but presenting oneself in a way that impressess others is a very difficult task. In order to know what others expect and how they can be impressed, we should know the differences between ourselves and others. This essay by giving various examples of valuing time and space with respect to various countries, clearly exemplifies the difficulties we can face if we are unknowm about the people and their culture.

Talking about manners, I still remember when my mom and dad used to teach me how to do something, why to do and how to do. If I have to be specific then the images are very vivid till now. When I was around 8 years old I was having my dinner. That day my aunt had come to visit and was staying that night. I still can’t help myself laughing when I happen to remember one incident. I was talking to my brother with my mouth full. Suddenly, a small piece of potato from my mouth went to my brother’s plate. My brother and I started to fight on that incident. Then my dad tied me and my brother with the same rope in a pillar for one hour and scolded me for being irresponsible. Since I am the elder one I was always supposed to be silent and understanding. That night my dad scolded me and told me not to speak with mouth full. That day I learned that it is bad manner to speak loudly while eating and specially with full mouth we are not supposed to talk.

Manners can’t be forcefully taught but it is learned from our mistakes. Since our childhood, our family, parents, society and even our friends, in various ways, teach us how to behave properly. It is true that it is difficult to be known about others culture and values but having politeness and respect for each others can reduce the problems occurred due to differences. Good manners always doesn’t necessarily mean we should know and understand others and behave propely but respecting the differences and each others.

Bhutanese Phallus

I found the article “The Anthropology of Manners” written by Edward T. Hall, well – known anthropologist and an expert on cultural differences in communication, manners, and perception of time, very interesting and useful. The article tends to make us wary about different manners practiced in different countries. Through this article I come to know that perceptions of time and proxemics differ from place to place or culture to culture, and it’s very essiantial for us to know about it in order to have a sociable conversation with foreigners.

In one of the paragraphs, Hall mentioned about  “evil eyes”. According to hall, in Iran, mothers spend money to remove “evil eyes” from their children. They do not appreciate Americans or other people patting their infants especially under the baby’s chin (248). This paragraph made me to think about our manners for removing “evil eyes”.

In Bhutan, mostly in village areas, you can see Phallus , a penis-shaped object,  paintings painted on the walls and doors of houses and buildings. Many foreigners or tourists usually get surprised or embarrassed  at their first sight. However, they appreciate it when they come to know that Bhutanese people draw Phallus on the walls and doors of their houses in order to drive away the “evil eyes” or bad lucks. You can not only see the paintings of phallus but also handmade wodden phallus hung either above the main entry doors or under rooftops at the four corners of their houses. It is also one of the most important tools for Atsaras (masked clowns) during Bhutanese special festivals such as Tshechu festival. People bow their head in front of clowns to get bless from phallus.                           

Though there are no tangible or legitimate evidences to prove that the history of phallus is related to Lama Drukpa Kinley, also known as Divine Madman who spread Buddhist teaching by subduing demons and evils using his penis, Bhutanese people believe that Drukpa Kinley came to Bhutan from Tibet before Buddhism was considered as the state religion, and he subdued a lot of demons in order to bring peace and happiness. Since phallus is related to Drukpa Kinley’s history, Bhutanese people pay respect to it and worship it. Making fun or thinking bad things about phallus while visiting Bhutanese houses or buildings is taken as a great insult not only to Drukpa Kinley but also to his followers.

Therefore, my dear friends remember my blog when you travel to Bhutan and visit Bhutanese traditional houses and buildings.