Ruth St. Denis as Radha (at the Haven's Housewarming in Piedmont, CA)
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Ruth St. Denis as Radha (at the Haven's Housewarming in Piedmont, CA), c. 1912
Photographic materials on Paper
9 15/16 in. x 7 13/16 in. (25.24 cm x 19.84 cm)
In pencil on verso: "Property of Scripps College Ph27".
"Ruth St. Denis as Radha
The Buddha niche
The living room at Mrs. Frank C. Havens' new oriental house in Piedmont"
Black and white silver gelatin print.
This photography was taken at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Frank Havens in Piedmont, California, while Ruth was on tour performing "Egypta" in 1911. Mrs. Havens was a Buddhist scholar with an interest in the East. Mr. Havens was a prominent real estate businessman, and the couple had just finished building a East Indian style home in Piedmont. They had not seen St. Denis's performance, but they had heard about "Radha" and the Indian series from friends, and they asked Ruth to dedicate their new house.
In the living room of the intricately and ornately decorated house was a large niche, which was intended to hold a seated Buddha. Mrs. Havens had not yet found the one that she wanted, and as soon as Ruth entered the room she and Mrs. Havens saw at once "that Radha would occupy the niche as though it had been designed for her" (St. Denis, "An Unfinished Life, 141). To the housewarming Mrs. Havens had invited all of artistic and social San Francisco and Oakland. When everyone was assembled Ruth entered the room dresses in a smoke-gray sari, bearing an incense try in her hand, and as she slowly came down the long room she sprinkled the incense on the charcoal, spreading a pungent perfume throughout the house. A little later screens were pulled apart and Rahda was found sitting in the niche, from which she decended to do her "Dance of the Five Senses."
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