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Balinese people The Burning of the God of Love [Smara Dahana] [Smaradahana: palm leaf manuscript] second half 19th century Description: a poem [kekawin] in the form of an illustrated palm-leaf manuscript [prasi] in praise of Kama the god of love
Place made: Buleleng palace [Puri Buleleng], Singaraja, Bali, Indonesia
Materials & Technique: drawings, manuscripts, palm leaf, ink incising, inking
Primary Insc: Text in Old Javanese language in Balinese script
Dimensions: palm leaves 5.3 h x 49.5 w cm
Acknowledgement: Purchased 1994
Accession No: NGA 94.1234.1.1-35

The Smara Dahana (The Burning of the God of Love) is a long court poem composed by the Javanese poet Dharmaja, during the twelfth century.  In praise of Kama, the god of Love, this version is profusely illustrated around the Old Javanese text, inscribed in Balinese script.

The poem relates the fate of Kama, who attempts to distract the great Hindu god Shiva from his ascetic retreat on Mount Meru. Eventually, Kama hits his target by shooting a flower-arrow imbued with the five senses at Shiva who awakes from his yogic trance. In a rage, Shiva incinerates Kama with a fiery glare from his third eye. As formless spirits, Kama and his beloved wife Ratih, who joins him in the fire, live on, attempting to unite the hearts of Shiva and his consort Uma.

Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2011
From: Asian gallery extended display label