Anthropological fieldwork in rural settlements on the west coast of India has unraveled the close connection between lived experiences, spaces and objects. These “inalienable possessions”, in the words of Annette Weiner, help reconstruct the past through the supplementation of oral traditions. Following this vein, the paper attempts to mesh together the material culture and oral histories to establish the provenance for the plethora of memorials in the state of Gujarat. A series of oral narratives collected in Western India since 2014 has highlighted the role of medieval memorial stelae that commemorate the deceased heroes of war and their wives and companions. This paper creates a niche for the Gujarati oral tradition as provenance for the continued veneration of these memorials. Field observations from 2014–2016 and notes from research in Gujarat from 1985 onwards enabled the study of patterns in the oral preservation of literature. A systematic documentation of the existing stelae and associated oral traditions has informed the views in this paper. The paper speaks to all levels of interaction and the making of an identity for the memorial stones that are unique to the state of Gujarat. A case for the inclusion of such rich material in museum displays is made in connection with this case study of the memorial stelae in Gujarat.
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