Hand carved Kala Rahu devours the moon goddess Dewi Bulan. Suar wood sculpture.
This is a Balinese piece of art representation of a lunar eclipse, but in a way that points to wider cosmic meanings of the event. The depiction is based on the narrative in the Adiparwa, the first book of the Indian epic the Mahabharata. It is also part of the Balinese adaptation of that story.
In a famous scene of the Adiparwa, the gods and demons get together to churn the World Mountain in the World Sea. Each group goes to a side of the mountain and ties a rope around it. This rope is the great serpent Basuki. The churning produces wondrous things, including the amerta, the elixir of life, but one of the demons, Kala Rahu (Rau), steals it and starts to drink it before the others can act. Quickly, the god Wisnu (Vishnu) reacts by cutting off Rahu’s head with his famous discus, the cakra. However, the elixir reaches Rahu’s neck, so his head remains immortal and flies off into the sky.
The moment in which Rahu devours the moon goddess, Dewi Bulan, is depicted here as the lunar eclipse. Dewi Bulan or Wulan, governs spinning and weaving.
Dimensions: 4.5″ x 9.75″ x 21.25″