Monday, January 23, 2017

How to spot a lesbian in sacred Indian art

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By Devdutt Pattanaik
Siva Temple, Prambanan, Central Java.
Is it our discomfort with homosexuality that makes us believe that it cannot be part of the sacred? I ask this question because it reveals a culture’s relationship between the sacred and the sensual, as well as the politics of desire. The question needs to be seen from two angles: cultural (Why should a lesbian be represented?) and technical (How will a lesbian be represented?). Only Persian painters, patronized by royalty, defiantly painted epic heroes and heroines, venturing at times to depict the pure, virginal, translucent but sexually ambiguous angels and houris. This brings us to the technical question: how will a lesbian be represented? I will restrict myself to the Hindu temple here, for there are greater chances of finding her here than in other sacred Indian art. [link]

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