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A Midwife's Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard, Based on Her by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

By Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

Drawing at the diaries of a midwife and healer in eighteenth-century Maine, this intimate background illuminates the clinical practices, loved ones economies, spiritual rivalries, and sexual mores of the recent England frontier.

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Extra info for A Midwife's Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard, Based on Her Diary, 1785-1812

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The central temple was 154 feet (47 metres) tall. Over the coming half-century Central Java developed an unfettered addiction to temple building. The plains and hills around Prambanan are thick with these temples. Some are dedicated exclusively to Shiva; a few are given over to the Buddha. indd 45 3/25/15 10:46 AM CHAPTER 2 which a Vaishnavite thread was also woven along with all sorts of local strands, and where the Buddha was a paid-up member of the pantheon. This tradition, which first took shape in Sanjaya-ruled Mataram, is best described as ‘Hindu-Buddhism’.

Feasting and frolicking cost money, of course, and the cash came mainly from trade. Majapahit had its own fleet—part merchant navy, part pirate armada—which traded out across the Java Sea and beyond, carrying, according to one account, everything from ‘pig and deer dried and salted’ to ‘camphor and aloes’. indd 54 3/25/15 10:46 AM Empires of Imagination: Hindu-Buddhist Java Singhasari days, and managed a good number of military conquests closer to home for good measure. All this did a great deal for Hayam Wuruk’s reputation as a god-king, and soon his court chroniclers were tripping over themselves to heap superlative epithets upon his head: He is present in invisible form at the focus of meditation, he is Siwa and Buddha, embodied in both the material and the immaterial; As King of the Mountain, Protector of the Protectorless, he is lord of the lords of the world … In fact the real genius behind all this commercial and military glory was not Hayam Wuruk himself, but his mahapatih, his prime minister, a thundering Machiavelli of a man by the name of Gajah Mada, the ‘Elephant General’.

Both Buddhist monks and Shaivite priests were given their own quarters in the capital, and the surrounding countryside was studded with temples. Airlangga’s old bathing temples on the slopes of Penanggungan got a new lease of life, and away to the south, in the beautiful countryside where the Brantas valley rumples up towards Gunung Kelud, an old Singhasari Shiva complex was updated and expanded to become the mighty temple of Panataran, a major focus of royal pilgrimages. There were already distinct local versions of the Indian epics the Mahabharata and the Ramayana, rewritten so that the escapades of the Pandava brothers and the adventures of Rama and Sita were now played out against a recognisably Javanese backdrop.

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