Image: Bali Painting E074161: Scenes from Swarga on Balinese cotton cloth
Bali Painting E074161: Scenes from Swarga (the afterlife) on Balinese cotton cloth, dimensions 150x160cm.
- Emma Furno
- © Australian Museum
This painting was collected in the 1970s from a temple in the Karangasem district in Bali. Professor Anthony Forge, a prominent academic at the Australian National University, who collected this painting, considered it one of the best in his collection. It is a work of fine quality, dated to the middle of the 19th century. The inscription in the bottom right corner suggests that the picture illustrates the afterlife as described in a lontal (palm leaf manuscript) completed in about 1303 Saka (Balinese lunar calendar), corresponding to the year 1381 (Western calendar).
The image comprises a number of scenes, mostly depicting punishment in the afterlife. In the top-right corner, people are shown with two holy figures probably hanging from the trees. Yama, the Hindu god of the underworld, appears in the middle of the painting, holding a flaming club. He is placed within a scalloped nimbus which is the conventional depiction of deities in classical Balinese paintings. Yama supervises his demons, who inflict a variety of torments on humans, according to their earthly transgressions. The panel across the bottom of the painting consists of a leyak (female witch) on the left, a long scene of mishaps at sea with monsters attacking boats, and a man fishing on the right.