Poster Women Archives: The Goddess

Zubaan

"But we look upon you as goddesses!” 

This is an argument virtually all Indian women are familiar with, and one many are skeptical about. Within the women's movement, the goddess image has taken a completely different turn: while many individuals and groups have looked for images of empowerment and strength, and have found them in religion, others have turned the goddess image on its head. In our search for posters across India we came across any number of posters in which the image of the many-armed Hindu goddess, whether Kali or Durga or Saraswati, was transformed into an image of the many-armed woman, performing tasks from morning to night. In one, a poster that has by now acquired iconic status, we see the many-armed goddess with one set of arms cut off, and the other holding weapons; in another we see the goddess holding implements of household tasks that she needs to perform, a third shows her balancing several things at one time the different interpretations of the goddess by women activists all over the country provide yet another prism through which to look at the movement and its many images and concerns. 

Despite all the many tasks women handle, men say that their wives don't work.
Source: Kali for Women
Location: New Delhi, Delhi
Language: Hindi
Artist: Kamla Bhasin

Women are likened to the goddess with many hands, Kali. But in society, women have no power.
Source: Jagori, Chandralekha
Location: Chennai, Tamil Nadu
Language: English and Hindi

“How many hands will I have! How much work will I do! ”Women should have equal rights in every sector.
Source: (South Orissa Voluntary Action) SOVA
Location: Bhubaneswar, Orissa
Language: Oriya

This is an argument virtually all Indian women are familiar with, and one many are skeptical about. Within the women's movement, the goddess image has taken a completely different turn: while many individuals and groups have looked for images of empowerment and strength, and have found them in religion, others have turned the goddess image on its head.

Women need more than two hands to do all the tasks that society expects them to do.
Source: South Orissa Voluntary Action (SOVA)
Location: Bhubaneswar, Orissa
Language: English
Artist: Smarita Patnaik

The different tasks of men and women.
Source: Provenance Unknown
Location: Gujarat
Language: English

House work is work. Housewives are workers. Are we willing to admit that? Women also have only two hands.
Source: Sakhi Resource Centre for Women
Location: Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala
Language: Malayalam

No value for hard work.
Source: Asmita
Location: Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh
Language: Telugu
Other details: Landscape, orange and black, paper

In the summer months Asmita goes to villages in A.P and organises Jatras (village fairs). 2 to 3 villages at one time participate in these one day fairs where stalls are set up to privide awareness on political participation of women, globalisation, health and child care/rights etc. The posters in this series are used during these Jatras. This particular poster is used during a session where women are asked to count the number of hours they spend working and home or in the fields and list all the work they do.

The frame of a clock shows how a woman's day is structured.
Source: Nari Nirjatan Pratirodh Manch
Location: Kolkata, West Bengal
Language: English

Women work round the clock.
Source: Kutch Mahila Vikas Sangathan
Location: Kutch, Gujarat
Language: Gujarati

One of the oldest of the 'goddess' images, this poster comes from Bengal and shows the typical Bengali woman in her traditional attire, handling multiple tasks.
Source: Sanchetana
Location: Kolkata, West Bengal
Language: Bengali

This poster uses the metaphor of the goddess slightly differently to make its point.

Source: School of Women’s Studies, Jadhavpur University
Location: Kolkata, West Bengal
Language: English

A somewhat dramatic rendering of the goddess.
Source: Provenance Unknown
Location: Bihar
Language: Hindi

Zubaan's Poster Women Project
Credits: Story

The Poster Women Project (www.posterwomen.org) created by Zubaan

Zubaan is an independent feminist publishing house based in New Delhi with a strong academic and general list. It was set up as an imprint of India’s first feminist publishing house, Kali for Women, and carries forward Kali’s tradition of publishing world quality books to high editorial and production standards. Zubaan means tongue, voice, language, speech in Hindustani. Zubaan publishes in the areas of the humanities, social sciences, as well as in fiction, general non-fiction, and books for children and young adults under its Young Zubaan imprint.

Zubaan
128 B, 1st Floor
Shahpurjat
New Delhi – 110 049
www.zubaanbooks.com
contact@zubaanbooks.com

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
Translate with Google
Home
Explore
Nearby
Profile