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SCATTERED GODDESSES: Travels with the Yoginis (Padma Kaimal)

ISBN: 978-0-924304-67-5. 314 pages. 8.5 x 11 paperback.

SCATTERED GODDESSES: Travels with the Yoginis is a book about the lost home, the new homes, and the journeys in between of nineteen sculptures that now reside in at least twelve separate museums across North America, Western Europe, and South India. After piecing together what these goddesses and their former companions might have meant when they were together in tenth-century South India, Kaimal traces them into the hands of private collectors and public museums as these objects became more thoroughly separated from each other with each transaction. In the process of export and purchase, and in the hostile as well as loving receptions these sculptures received within South Asia, she fi nds that collecting and scattering were the same activity experienced from different points of view.

“In this welcome new book, Padma Kaimal asks important and often refreshingly different questions about Indian art from Tamilnadu. These questions include how we reconstruct, interpret and display a whole world of patronage and temple construction, sculpture and devotion, and the role in it of women as well as men. This book shows the real benefits of focussing intently on a coherent group of just nineteen sculptures now scattered around the world’s museums. In doing so Professor Kaimal challenges us to think differently about issues of restitution of cultural property and not to adopt simply the familiar ‘naked binary oppositions between art market thieves and victims, between an evil colonizing West and a virtuous pillaged Asia.’” — John Reeve, London University (Former Head of Education at the British Museum)

“With great care and admirable clarity of mind, Padma Kaimal pieces together here an absorbing ‘narrative’, even as the dispersed goddesses, whom she seems to know almost at fi rst hand, look upon us with their timebegentled eyes. Several strands, seemingly scattered but all joined and then limned by art historical inquiry, come together in this truly impressive work: investigation, reconstruction, study of intent, concern for quality, and, above all, an awareness of the larger context. There is a sense of completeness here.” — B.N.Goswamy, Professor Emeritus, Panjab University, Chandigarh