Turtles (and elephants) all the way down?

Lance Nelson LNelson at SANDIEGO.EDU
Fri Apr 2 16:01:02 UTC 2010

Many in this group, but perhaps not all, will be familiar with the 
importance of Bedawang Nala, the world turtle of Balinese myth, who 
supports the earth on his back and is typically portrayed in sculpture 
at the base of the Balinese padmasana altars. 

A quick reference:

Long ago the island of Bali drifted on the waves, as vulnerable as a frail
boat. The gods, in their mercy, decided that this would not do. They 
removed the
top of the sacred Mount Meru (in some versions from India, in others 
from Java)
and had it brought to the island by three enormous nagas-serpents with 
on their heads and jewels on the end of their tails-named Basuki, 
and Taksaka, who are commonly held to be incarnations of the deities Wisnu,
Brahma, and Siwa. The nagas lashed the mountain to the island, and then 
to it the cosmic turtle Bedawang, and so things still remain. Renamed
Gunung Agung ("Great Mountain"), the mountain stabilized the land, making
human habitation possible, and it was on or above the mountain that the gods
themselves remained.

Doors of Perception: Power and Representation in Bali
Author(s): Margaret J. Wiener
Source: Cultural Anthropology, Vol. 10, No. 4 (Nov., 1995), pp. 472-508

Cheers!  Lance

On 4/2/2010 at 8:22 AM Toke L. Knudsen wrote:
> Continuing with references to the earth being supporting by a single 
> tortoise

Lance Nelson
Theology & Religious Studies
University of San Diego

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