Brill’s Encyclopedia of Hinduism Online

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(6,877 words)

Courtesans between Power, Shame, and Fame

Devadāsī (slave of god) ranks among the most controversial and powerful incentives of Western fantasies about the East. As “container term,” it came to frame nearly all women working in the Indian public sphere, both sacred and secular; thereby it obliterated large differences in regiona…

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Kersenboom, Saskia, “Devadāsīs/Courtesans”, in: Brill’s Encyclopedia of Hinduism Online, Editor-in-Chief Associate Editors Knut A. Jacobsen, Helene Basu, Angelika Malinar, Vasudha Narayanan. Consulted online on 29 January 2022 <>
First published online: 2018

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