But there is a HUGE world of other forms of research that can enrich anyone's writing and research.
Ethnogtraphy is vital to get the oral aspect, listen to the stories and witness the practices. Go there; speak to the people, do the activities. This includes the art forms of stroytelling, music, and dance.
Material culture is a study of EVERYTHING ELSE!
It touches all the other senses! Being able to include this in researching a religion or culture expands our knowledge and understanding. If you are writing fictional work, including these details will greatly enrich what you are writing, bring it more to life, and engage your readers... captivate them even!
Material culture includes not just sight and sound, but also includes: smell, taste, and especially touch. Another aspect is that almost visceral emotional sense of having been touched internally, in your soul/spirit, making you feel moved in some way (changed by the experience).
Let's consider SIX categories (because as Westerners, we value labeling things and catergorizing them).
- items used on altars and in shrines
- statuary and venerated objects
- ritual tools
- wooden carvings
- objects in stone or metal
This is not at all even considering the content of the text.
- writing tools
- writing styles
- interior illustrations
- textiles / fabric
- body art (painting, henna, tattoos, piercing, body modifications)
- window art & stained glass
- ornamentation of statues
- trinkets & decor
- musical instruments
- instrument storage
- cooking tools
- eating tools
- place setting styles
- other beverages
- beverage preparation
- drinking vessels
- storage containers