Rice Gods and Rice Goddesses

In a rambling indoor/outdoor warehouse in Baan Tawai, Thailand, we saw them, a pair standing there, and they saw us:

We debated adopting them. My husband thought they’d look good in our living room. I wasn’t sure. Although I liked them, I couldn’t envision where they should live. But you do know we did take them, otherwise there would be no story to tell. They now reside in our living room, and they fit in there, and visitors ask about them all the time.

Rice God

For years I’ve wondered what they are. Now, I think they may be a rice god and rice goddess …

A rice goddess in Ubud, Bali shared by Sanders50 on Travelpod:

Dewi Sri, goddess of rice on Bali and Java, as explained at Andhee and Culture:

Another view, shared on Travelpod by Karsenault:

Rice Goddess, Ubud, Indonesia
This travel blog photo’s source is TravelPod page: Heart of the Island

This version of Dewi Shri is fashioned from palm leaves, shared in a story about Balinese art, ritual and performance at The New York Times:

Balinese painting of a rice goddess at Rakuten:

Rice goddess at Arhaus:

Rice god and goddess from Two Buttons shared at design-phan:

Stone carved rice goddesses at Dewi Sri Stone Statue:

Rice goddesses via Flickr Lonthebay:

Rice goddess at Java Heritage:

For a change of pace, here’s a more ancient looking rice god, photographed in the Philippines, from Al’s Photos Flickr:

And from National Geographic, here’s what rice gods and goddesses protect — the food supply for much of the planet’s population. Here’s a rice planting festival in Japan in the 1970s:

Rice paddies are serene and beautiful viewed from afar.  Here’s a rice paddy in Kalimpong in West Bengal, India, south of Darjeeling — shared online by Sherab’s Photography:

Rice terraces in the Philippines shared by traveler Gary Yetter — what a stunning view. Furthermore, he describes these terraces as being carved by  hand into the mountainside thousands of years ago, and supported with stone walls:

This image from his blog post gives you a view of how steep these terraces are, and there is a rice god carved into this walking stick!

If you want to know more about rice goddesses, there is a good discussion at this blog post: Rice Goddesses of Indonesia, Cambodia and Thailand. I like to know more about the items we bring back from travels. What is their meaning? How are they used? What is their value and role in the culture? If you have more to add about rice goddesses, please comment below! My husband’s grandfather grew rice in the India countryside many many decades ago. So maybe rice goddesses in our home are appropriate to honor that history.

This post talks about Dewi Shri, the rice goddess of Bali and Java. And as this post discusses, the rice goddesses remind me very much of the beautiful apsaras at Angkor Wat. I photographed many apsaras when we had the good fortune to visit Angkor Wat and other Khmer temples. Much architecture and symbolism there is drawn from Southern India and Hinduism, actually! I’ll do a post about that visit sometime …

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9 Replies to “Rice Gods and Rice Goddesses”

  1. Pingback: 4-24-2011 Dream Fragments A Goddess And A God? | A Dreamer's Limbo
  2. What beautiful goddesses! I did not know about a rice goddess, but I am not surprised. What is surprising is that there is also a rice god :) I happened to visit your blog because I was looking for some celadon inspiration; I read your post about looking for chinoserie wallpaper to redo a cabinet and scrolled down a few posts — found the rice goddess (and god). They are wonderful pieces and I’m very happy they were adopted by a caring family who put them in the beautiful surroundings they deserve. I hope you won’t mind, I’m going to borrow your idea and do a blog post on the rice goddess, and link back to your post with all the great pictures. Thank you for the inspiration — celadon AND rice goddess (and god, won’t forget him). Jan Newton, Goddesschess

    1. Thank you Jan! It’s so wonderful to hear you were inspired! We love our celadon, use our dishes and bowls everyday. Some are getting chipped after a decade of use and it makes me want to go to Thailand again and get some more.

      Absolutely, feel free to blog about the rice goddess (and god!). We owned these statues for years and I always wondered what they were. We should have asked at the warehouse where we bought them. I happened to see a photo of a rice goddess in Bali and thought, wow, that looks like our statues! I’m glad to have learned more about them and thank you for telling others too. I love them. One goddess is looking over my shoulder right now …

      Oh and I did find chinoserie wallpaper, am actually planning to finally finish that cabinet this weekend. What timing. Will be posting about it soon!


      1. I will be sure to check back for your post(s) on the transformation of the cabinet with the chinoserie paper. I am partial to Oriental design, although I understand these days the preferred term is “Far East”, LOL! Have gathered little accents here and there for what seems eons, and a couple pieces of “styled” furniture. Nothing collector-worthy, but I love them all, even the poorly done ones (I have several of those). Celadon has been a fascination for years. That color — I wish I could afford to collect celadon porcelain! It’s only within the past year or so I decided to do a “celadon” family room (with taupe). Well, my celadon is turning out to be more turquoise, teal and aqua than that elusive true pale-green blue that I envision when I think of celadon. Que sera sera… Now I’m thinking perhaps I should go with that elusive color celadon that I see in my mind’s eye for the walls in the family room rather than the darkish taupe color I chose. But I have 2 gallons of taupe paint that’s been waiting for a year to be applied. So – don’t know. Ach! Will be sure to check out your interiors, perhaps inspiration will strike once again.

        1. Hmmm, you could paint part of the wall taupe, like the bottom, and the top celadon? Best of both worlds!

          I don’t know if our celadon is REAL celadon or if they just call their glaze color celadon. We got ours at Baan Celadon in Chiang Mai, Thailand and another place there, I forget the whole name but it started with an “M”, that was cheaper. Baan Celadon might sell online now and I know Novica used to sell their products.

          I love many Asian styles too! I don’t worry about whether anything is worthy to anyone else to collect. I figure in many decades (hopefully) there will be an estate sale when I’m not here anymore and people might wonder “why did she buy that?!?” Because I liked it, that’s all! Deb

          1. I am giving serious consideration to your suggestion of using celadon paint in the family room. The original plan was to paint ceiling, woodwork/trim and lower portion of walls beneath a chair rail (to be installed) a warm white color and the walls above the chair rail would be the dark taupe color. I know that’s breaking “the rules” — doing just the opposite that says use darker color below chair rail and lighter color above. So, now I’m thinking I could lightly tint the white to achieve just a hint of pale celadon, but maybe I’m too chicken to do it. Of course, I could just repaint if I don’t like it, but I hate painting. I didn’t mind doing it all myself when I was younger (quite a bit younger), but these days with limited energy and even more limited funds I don’t want to have to paint more than once. The room needs it though; it hasn’t been touched since about 1993! Novica does sell wonderful hand-crafted items online; right now, however, until income tax refund time (I’ve got to get to work on those, damn!) I am limited to shopping my house and printing off items from online and framing them to use as my art. Oh, and I bought some turquoise-y plates with a charcoal grey and white floral with bird design at TJMaxx last week – got 4 square plates for $13. New rug and curtains for family room and dinette (which is wide open to the family room) were all purchased last year; only recently did I bring in from the garage the area rug for the family room and the new curtains. Retrieved an old highly glazed teal blue/green lamp from the basement that I’ve had forever, plopped a different but old shade on it and I’m very happy with how it looks in the room. Not to say it will “go” with the new paint job, when that eventually happens. Anyway, thank you so much for your tips/info. It’s that elusive subdued, subtle somewhat smokey but glowing pale green/blue celadon color that I am lusting after, because not in a million years can I afford actual celadon porcelain, although I’m not adverse to buying celadon look-a-like if I can find it cheaply enough :) BTW, added your blog to my list of favorites. What a serendipitous thing, finding your blog!

            1. I’m glad you like my blog enough to add to to your favs! :) Yes different colors above and below a chair rail would be great. Depending on the feel you want out of a room, I think darker colors like a taupe are good if you want a cozy “enveloping” feel. Our whole house was light and then last year I painted our dining room a deep paprika color. I love it. The color kind of changes with the seasons too. We wish our rooms all were a little bigger so I was hesitant to make the dining room feel smaller with a dark color. But it feels richer and cozy, like you’re wrapped in a hug of color. So I guess it depends on what we want from a room! I wish you all the best with your decision and painting! And I know, it’s not so easy anymore. I’m in my mid-40s and already get very sore from painting. Ugh.

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