Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Seeing Beauty, Sensing Race in Transnational Indonesia$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

L. Ayu Saraswati

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780824836641

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824836641.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM HAWAII SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.hawaii.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Hawaii University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in HSO for personal use (for details see http://www.universitypressscholarship.com/page/privacy-policy).date: 22 July 2018

Rasa, Race, and Ramayana

Rasa, Race, and Ramayana

Sensing and Censoring the History of Color in Precolonial Java

(p.15) 1 Rasa, Race, and Ramayana
Seeing Beauty, Sensing Race in Transnational Indonesia

L. Ayu Saraswati

University of Hawai'i Press

This chapter introduces the theoretical concept of rasa and uses it to construct a historical account of skin color and gender hierarchies in Java prior to European colonization (late ninth and early tenth centuries). Through a reading of the Old Javanese adaptation of the Indian epic poem Ramayana, the chapter stresses the importance of color hierarchy even before European colonization and explains how it was articulated through affective vocabularies attached to notions of beauty. It argues that the conflation between lightness and light skin as desirable and darkness and dark skin as undesirable is registered through rasa. It shows that in Ramayana, women with light skin color are represented with positive rasa as beautiful and desirable, whereas people with dark skin color are depicted with negative rasa as undesirable and often terrifying. The chapter concludes by distinguishing rasa from affect and emotion.

Keywords:   rasa, skin color, gender hierarchies, Java, Ramayana, beauty, light skin, dark skin, emotion

Hawaii Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs, and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us.