I would like to introduce you to the “guardian angel” of Thornlea, the home of Henry Scripps Booth and Carolyn Farr Booth. She is a flying winged spirit guardian, sometimes called a cradle guardian or spiritchaser, made in Bali, Indonesia.
Spirit guardians have been used in Balinese temples and homes to ward off evil spirits for centuries. Typically, they are hung in a high location, looking down towards a door or window.
Thornlea’s guardian hangs high above the entrance hall to the house, gazing down on all who enter. The guardian is in the form of Dewi Sri, who, in Balinese mythology, is the goddess of rice, fertility, a successful harvest, and family prosperity and harmony.
Archival records point to Henry Scripps Booth purchasing the guardian in San Francisco, not in Bali, between 1978 and 1988 (Ed. note: per HSB’s grandson Charlie’s recollections in the comments below, the guardian was bought about 1984).
In June 2020, our Associate Curator Kevin Adkisson took visitors on a virtual tour of Thornlea House. Here is a clip featuring Dewi Sri:
The next time you visit Thornlea, make sure to look up and say “om swastiastu” to Dewi Sri and ask her for prosperity and harmony for your family!
– Leslie S. Mio, Associate Registrar, Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research