Pomp and Ritual

Osrakum is a theatre in which the Masters play out their rituals of power. Display and grandeur are at the heart of these rituals and yet, except at the ceremony of the Rebirth which is held annually in the Plain of Thrones, these are rarely witnessed by their subjects. Their households bear constant witness to this pomp, but it is not they whom the Masters have in mind as being their primary audience.

This picture is an example of a typical procession of the Masters and is in two registers: the Masters above, their slaves below. The two castes are separated not only by the masks the Masters wear, but by the difference in height (often exaggerated by ranga). Contrast the serenity of the Masters with the strain and labour of their servants. Their conversations occur in every sense above the heads of their slaves.

Most of these gatherings of the Masters are rituals performed for magical reasons: symbolism of movement through sacred spaces dynamically complementing the static symbolism of their costume. But the pomp with its display of wealth and beauty is intended for the eyes of other Masters. It seems to me that the audience sought is always those who have power. So the Romans put on their triumphs and games for the people of Rome because they feared them. The pomp of Versailles was restricted to the king and the aristocracy in whose hands all power lay. In our modern democracies the people have ultimate power, so that all display is made to them. Imagine how different would be the election in the Chamber of the Three Lands depicted in The Chosen had it been televised…