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East Asia

Literally, ‘erotic desire’. The Balinese version of the Hindu goddess of maternity and fertility. In her portrayal as a heavily pregnant yet leering woman there is an element of the surreal. The teeming womb and the distended breasts, attributes of the mother goddess, are dramatically juxtaposed with demonic voluptuousness, perhaps a sinister legacy from the island's Polynesian past. Java was always known as ‘the island abounding in barley’, yavadvipa, while Bali seems to have retained its archaic reputation as the island of ghosts, the ancestral spirits dwelling at the sources of the rivers. In Rati the ancient demon-ridden faith of the Balinese finds perfect expression. The goddess taunts those who adhere to the imported ideals of the ascetic.

Balinese sculpture of Rati, ‘The Queen of the Witches’. Source: © Photoresources

Subjects: Religion.

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