Thursday, August 18, 2011

between the carved stone

between the carved stone
candi bentar, a gray cat
serenely contemplates

A small gray cat with a stubby tail is sitting on the threshold between the ornately carved candi bentar, the split stone gates of the temple in the Pondok Frog family compound. Robin tells me that this gate, which looks like a tower split in half, symbolizes the splitting of the material world so that the human can enter the spiritual realm. The left side represents the female quality and the right side the male quality. Balinese believe that if an evil spirit tries to enter, the two sides will come together to crush it. Apparently this cat is not an evil spirit because it is sitting with impunity right between the halves of the gate, nonchalantly gazing over its shoulder. Although the gray cat lives in Bali, it is not a Balinese cat, an official feline breed which looks like a Siamese with slightly longer hair. I'm not likely to see a purebred Balinese, though, because it will undoubtedly be kept safely indoors where it won't risk getting its tail shortened like this little gray kitty.

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