Woman With Serpent Around Her Shoulder

Modified Gypsum
12” H x 7” W x 5” D

About the Piece

In 2000, when I performed in The Vagina Monologues (1998), I had an idea for this piece after I finished the show. I envisioned a women being born, almost flying out of a yoni. In rehearsing the monologue, I was at first very nervous about my acting abilities. However, in meeting the emotional challenge of the performances, I felt freed of my fears and emerged with renewed strength. 

Woman with Serpent Around Her Shoulder is also based on a sculpture I saw in the book Devi The Great Goddess (Shaner and Eickel, 1999, page 285). The figure is called Nagini from India, state of Bihar ca. 100, grey terra-cotta 30 x 13.5 x 12.5. (Collection of Anupam and Rajika Puri.) The book states this Nagini

"...depicts a female figure of semidivine, if not entirely divine status while her girdle consists of a string of large medallions...The 2 serpents that casually wind themselves around the body of this superb, although partly damaged, terracotta figure suggest her affiliation with images of the Nagas and Naginis, semidivine serpent beings generally carved as human figures against a coiled serpent backdrop and seen abundantly from the 1st century onward….snakes with their ability to cast off their dead skin and emerge smooth and fresh, are used as analogies in the Hindu religion for the way a soul casts off its dead body after each life only to reemerge anew. In India, serpents are considered auspicious beings...While the exact identity of this serpent-related deity may be difficult to establish, she may be described as an early prototype of a snake goddess. It is noteworthy in this connection that the serpent goddess Manasa (cat. No. 63, page 307) was especially popular in the adjoining cultural region of Bengal in Eastern India." 

Once again, as with many of my other pieces, the frame of the piece is in the shape of the mandorla/yoni. With this piece I am reinstating wisdom and consciousness to the realm of woman. I put the medallions on her to reference the Nafini piece mentioned above, to honor it, to be a part of carrying on the tradition in my own lifetime, to feel connected to my woman heritage.

Ensler (1998) The Vagina Monologues. New York : Villard Books.

For questions or comments about Cydra's art, please email: womansculpture@icloud.com