September 27, 2010

Goddess of Rice?

They call her Dewi Sri, the goddess of rice. I didn't know that name untill artist Krisna Murti shared photo's of my project Dance in a ricecarpet with the titel "Goddess of Rice?". I started looking up information about Dewi Sri, also know as Dewi Shri (Javanese), Nyai Pohaci Sanghyang Asri (Sundanese), Mae Po Sop, Siamese rice goddess in Thailand, and Khmer Po Ino Nogar, rice goddess of Cambodia. My Dance in a ricecarpet dancer Barbara van Kooten looks a bit like Dewi Sri, but also the project itself symbolize things which Dewi Sri symbolize.

The dance is about creating, destroying and rebuilding. A process of within shown with rice.

Barbara's dance starts in a ricecarpet made of black, red and yellow rice and blond lentil. The patterns in this ricecarpet are based on different Batikmotifs. Left and right you'll see the motif of the Batikbird, phoenix or "bang-biru" bird from Batik Lasem. In the black parts are motifs from Simbut Batiks, symbols for life in the shape of a Sun or compass. The center of the ricecarpet is a mask or moth.

Barbara's dance makes different shapes in the rice, a small flower turn in to a mandala.

With red lentils Barbara accentuate her new made ricecarpet.

Dewi Sri is believed to have dominion over the underworld and the Moon. Thus, Dewi Sri encompasses the whole spectrum of the Mother Goddess, having dominion over birth and Life. She controls rice: the staple food of Indonesians; hence life and wealth or prosperity; most especially rice surpluses for the wealth of kingdoms in Java such as Mataram, Majapahit and Pajajaran; and their inverse: poverty, famine, hunger, disease (to a certain extant) and Death.

I bought a book "The Art of Rice"(present for my birthday from my parents, thanks!!). More about Dewi Sri will be edit soon because there is a lot information about this in this book!

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