KETOET GEDE, SINGARAJA, SCENE FROM THE SMARADAHANA,
INDRA TALKS WITH SMARA, THE GOD OF LOVE
Drawing on Dutch paper, watermark Concordia, countermark VdL., 34.2 x 42 cm
A male figure, standing on the leftt, wearing a high, round crown, candi kurung, makes gestures indicating that he is speaking. To the right is standing another male figure, his hair styled in a double chignon, sepit urang, embrading a woman. A text in Balinese script in ink at the top left says: “bhathtar Inddra”, bhatara Indra, and at the top on the right: “smara, rathtih”, Smara, Ratih.
The god Indra talks with the god Smara, who is standing close to his beloved wife Ratih. Smara (meaning love), or Kama (meaning desire), are names for the god of Love.
The scene may refer to an episode described in the Old Javanese poem Smaradahana (II: 1-3). The god Siwa has been meditating for a long time. He does not have any interest in his wife nor in any other women. A problem arises when the enemies of the gods, the demons, attack the Himalaya, the mountain of the gods. Brahma and Wisnu have already retreated, because they are frightened. Siwa cannot be disturbed, and anyway he will not fight. It is foretold that only a descendant of Siwa with the head of an elephant can defeat the demons. A trick has to be devised. It is decided that the god Kama should shoot one of his love-arrows at Siwa, so that he longs for his wife. She will become pregnant and give birth ot a child with an elephant’s head. Indra goes to Kama’s residence. He asks him to shoot his arrows at Siwa. Kama agrees but only reluctantly for he is afraid that he will be killed by an angry god Siwa. In the text Indra speaks to Kama alone (Ratih is in her own pavilion), but in the drawing the couple is depicted together in a posture which indicates great