Poison Arrows: Strange Journey with an Opium Dreamer, Annam, Cambodia, Siam and The Lotos Isle of Bali

by Grace Thompson-Seton

A smart feminist in 1935 Angkor. Sensuality, hints to opium-enticed paradises, Bali women: "Asia lifted its curtain at the moonlit ruins of Angkor."

Poison arrows 1938 cover 2

Type: hardback

Publisher: The Travel Book Club, London

Published: 1938

Author: Grace Thompson-Seton

Pages: 301

Language : English

ADB Library Catalog ID: TRAV-45

The author was a seasoned travel writer -- and soon to be divorced, to boot -- when she decided to see Angkor. In Saigon (Ho Chi Minh Ville), she picked the brains of the American consul to get a guide, the Romanian-Scottish Baron Gyorgy Antalffy-Sturdza, "gentleman by birth and by training", an opium addict who had done some work for the 'Musée Colonial'. But then, in this colorful book "foreign characters are types, not portraits, and do not conform to specific individuals". Overall, we can see a strong woman caught between her Puritan education and her desire to experiment the world at its fullest.

The itinerary of the American traveler, very much like the Southeast Asia Grand Tour fashionable among the literati in the 1930s, was: Saigon-Nha Trang-Ben Methuot (to visit the 'Moi' people); Saigon-Kompong Chang- Angkor-Aryana Pradesa- Bangkok; Bangkok - Singapore- Batavia - Sourabaya- Bali. In Bali, she mingled with "Charles Garvin and his Dutch girl", with Dutch-French "Parisian Faust Peer Mawith, always in search for beauty exemplified in the feminine form." A rather decent photographer herself, she became fascinated with the gracious dances of Balinese women, which she astutely compares to the Khmer classical dance she admired in Angkor.

Here is her relation of Angkor (Chap V, pp 200-213) [she stayed at 'Hotel des Ruines' [Auberge des Temples], which she describes as 'a rambling series of bungalow buildings opposite Angkor Wat']. Aroused senses, the notion that ancient Khmer artists were under the influence of drugs - later developed in Geoffrey Gorer's reverie about his 'pleasure trip' to Angkor and Bali -, the feeling that she's in presence of something "human yet not human", and even a lecture on gender equality as seen by an American suffragist...This is a powerful description:

ANGKOR at last! The trail end of a lure that has led me half around the world, has teased my imagination since first photographers gave us the enigmatic faces of the Bayon, colossal, innumerable, smiling remotely amid -writhing masses of smothering jungle.
Sturdza and I have been sightseeing ruins all day. Now as we stand before the Bayon he tells me it is part of the Royal City of Angkor Thom further north than Angkor Wat and built three hundred years before it [1]. The pyramidal religious structure, known as Phimeanakas, - which we visited coming to the Bayon -, stirs the imagination as does the wealth of decoration in magnificent reliefs still to be seen on the east terrace. Both form part of the vanished glory of Angkor Thom. According to the Frenchman, Aymonier, the Khmer king Jayavarman III began building Angkor Thom in the year of our Lord eight hundred and sixty and completed the mighty task in about forty years. We cannot see much of his Royal Palace, little of it remains, but the Temple of Bayon has withstood the devastating clutch of the jungle. As I look at its square enclosure I note that it is formed by galleries and colonnades, in the centre of which rises a tower square at the base and surrounded by its regiment of lesser towers conceived, it seems to me, by no normal mind. Two hundred and fifty great stone faces are leering into the gathering shadows.[2]
Later in the afternoon I wander away from Sturdza. The light is failing. Alone in the deepening shadows I penetrate further among these huge stone faces of Bayon. Two towers rise beside me. Each wall is formed into one vast human face thrusting out at me. A sardonic smile curves the lips, flares the nostrils, slants the eyes. As I stand between two of these demon masks they press closer and closer on either side as though to crush the small creature between them. More and more they seem to thrust towards the midget who has dared to intrude upon their elemental eternalness. Now as I look at them in the approaching dusk, I feel that they are looking at me with oblique, cynical expression not human, not divine. Gigantic faces of Lokeçvaka, to me expressing no attribute of Buddha. Denizens of another world, that of the senses personified, creatures of a fevered imagination - they seem to press in upon me, mockingly.
An uncomfortable feeling assails me. Is it fear? Is it the .presence of a jungle night drawing around me the forces of subtle tropical life? The owls' rhythmic calls, the bats' squeak as they weave erratic aerial patterns, the infinite concert of noise-making insects, the slithering of snakes, the faint cries of beasts of prey, causing a nocturne exciting, uncanny in these inexhaustible greeneries? It is eerie, unreal.
I am very glad to see Sturdza in a lower court and call to him. Those huge faces are still leering uncertain outlines too close on either side of me. They seem actually to move towards me in the greying light, closer, crushing, invincible. I tell Sturdza of my hallucination.
"Of course. They are pipe dreams:. Those old Johnnies, 'the Khmers', all hit the pipe. This whole conception belongs to the world of dreams. I've often felt like that face. Look! It smiles, is happy, doesn't care - lucky devils." [3]
"Oh! And the Bayaderes and dancing Devas - those impossible Apsaras, are they all pipe dreams too?""
"AII of Angkor is a pipe dream. Do you not see, Madame? Take the Wat. It is not simple like the beautiful lines of Thebes or Baalbeck. Although one perceives a perfect symmetry above and below. Monsters guard all the perrons of the entrances, the divine Apsaras, strangely smiling, scantily clothed, dance and twist in impossible posture in recurring groups; tiers of different levels, carvings everywhere in what appears to be confusion, wild disorder in this hill of chiselled stones." He stops speaking, lost in his 'thoughts.
What fantasy! Yet those faces, leering at me, crowding me, diabolically smiling, colossal, overpowering, engulfing me in a world o£ insecurity and insanity! I feel alien emotions, teasing delights, veiled in shadowy fears that lure further along an intangible road to a land of opal shades of golden mist: and faint harp music; peopled with self-sufficient, uncaring people, human and yet not human, strangely smiling, terrifying yet alluring --
A bat skims over my hat.
"Madame," exclaims Sturdza, rousing from his reverie, "we must go back to the motor. It is getting too dark to see the snakes."
Gladly I comply. If that is the dreamer's world let the dream pictures stay in the Bayon and haunt the living no more.
But the normal world does not entirely return. All of Angkor seems haunted by memories so potent that they come through the curtain of the past and actuate themselves in the present - that jewel temple Néak Pean sitting on a lotos in the middle of its own lake where only wraiths of devotees can reach it - those gloomy corridors of sinister trees at Ta Prom leaden with mysteries and evil things that lie in wait along their tomb-like shade, a sylphic crowd of beings not meant for humans to contact! Those garlanded naked figures dancing, abandoned, yet sexless, in postures impossible for bones and joints. Every inscrutable smile of these imponderable god-dancers is a curtain concealing unmeptionable delights. Coleridge and Poe and Heine and Verlaine and other morbid writers have made strange complexes live for us in their printed words. The Khmers have left them in stone!
Angkor is north of the Great Lake (Tonle-sap) and the Wat or temple rears its marvels on the right bank of the river Siem-Reap which is a tributary - nine centuries old it was buried, forgotten, for half of that time.
In the glaring light of morning Sturdza's conception of Angkor still seems intriguing as I study the sculptured hill, formed into a square pyramid of three tiers. Yes, there is symmetry-like a bride's cake. Its outer perimeter measures six thousand and sixty yards. The base of the first storey is nearly three-quarters of a mile around, tireless green growth crackling the walls of sandstone and of limonite - huge stones fitted together without cement, at what cost of sweating slaves - rank growth slowly swallowing the temple, its carven animals, men and gods in ceaseless fecundity. At the top on the third level I come to the most sacred place where broods a Buddha; little square rooms called Libraries are at the corners. I climb steep steps, rough and broken, past the Apsaras forever contorting, wreathed in smiles of discreet mockery, eyes half closed; past crouching lions and sacred serpents, their seven-hooded heads spread out like a fan.
A tropical storm is gathering. I climb the steep rocky layers in haste so as to find shelter before the threatened downpour commences. The oppressive air is overpowering, shimmering waves of heat rise from the plain below. The sky, now a black canopy of gloom, adds its sinister note to the ghoulish feeling of unreality - these pipe-dream races of dancing maidens and menacing beasts and serpents-these sculptured counterparts lose their rigidity and seem to be endowed with life, cruel survivals of' other worlds. A chant of the bonzes making their rhythmic monotony at the base of the temple, mingles with these challenging shapes.
A hard climb to the second tier, shows still more stairways. As I mount, still more eerie feelings assail.
I stop at last for rest in the West upper terrace, sit in a doorway with no corridor beyond. Instead a sheer drop of ninety feet to the terrace below. I look out upon the plain and beyond at the forest stretching inscrutably into the black sky. It is an alien menacing world.
With relief I hear footsteps and welcome a return to the normal.
Sturdza suddenly joins me. He asked the time a half hour ago and disappeared. Now he states that he went to meet Em! I swallow surprise. It seems he thoughtthat this would be a capital time to have Em see Angkor; has not been able to afford it before. The youth had got 'a lift' with friends and would be no trouble and would stay only a day or two. The subterranean ways of these people. Like India, they are past deciphering by an Occidental.
Seating himself beside me on the stone sill of a nonexistent doorway in the Wat's tower, our feet almost on the edge of a yawning chasm of sculptured ruins, Sturdza's talk travels from Em to his last client, an American woman. He gives her name and residence and per inent description of herself and her background. Then out of the casual chatter snakes up the head of something unpleasant:
"Mrs. A. is an ardent Protestant. She tried hard to convert me. She tried every way. I believe she was even ready to try the bedroom way."
"What - what did you say, Sturdza?"
A slight smile and a tiny shrug. "La route du lit. I think she liked me very much. But I pretended not to see. I--"
"Baron Sturdza! What a hideous thing to say. If you must say such things, say them in French. English ears are untrained to such crudity. But you simply must not talk about American women that way. You do not understand. Just because she was friendly there is no need to say such a disgusting thing about a charming woman. Whether it is true or not it should not be said."
Indignation, coloured by the question of what he might be saying about me the following year, continues the theme.
"Undoubtedly you misunderstood the lady. She liked you. Perhaps she was sorry for you." (That is a mean dig.) "But an American woman is not forever hunting for men to be intimate with. She may squeeze your hand, put an arm around your neck in the dance or even kiss you. But it may not mean a thing. It depends somewhat upon the social set in which she has been brought up. With us, boys and girls mingle freely, in sports, business, social-all kinds of activities. There is alot of free and easy comradeship at times; but it does not go beyond a certain point any oftener than ·with the much chaperoned Europeans. Perhaps not so often. Girls are perfectly aware of "the facts of life'" and know when the situation is getting out of hand. Personal virtue is prized with us as much as -with you. It is not given lightly. That was a horrid thing for you to say - a nasty European man's idea. Not the speech of Mummy's gentleman."
Sturdza took this flaying contritely: "I am sorry. It just slipped out. It is difficult for the European to understand the American woman. I will not say it again."
So peace is restored. We are back on the old note of guide, plus repressed emotion. Sturdza unfolds some details of the marvellous sculptures lavished on Angkor.
"In Angkor Wat you see portrayed upon that large panel the amusingly uncomfortable predicament of the creatures who are being churned in the Sea of Milk and this legend is carved on gateways of Angkor Thom. Also that impressive entrance to the town is bordered by a magnificent balustrade of grinning demons - with crested heads, fifty-four of them, matched by the same number of dignified demi-gods in queer peaked hats, the Moukouta. Each row bears aloft the giant body of the serpent god, Vasouki, its finials unexpectedly bursting out into the many-headed cobra fan of Hindu mythology.
"As you will note, Madame, this myth supplies innumerable motifs for the Angkor sculptures, the Devas and Assouras (demi-gods and demons) the Apsaras and Devatas, flower-decked sylphs and nymphs enigmatically smiling, human in shape but not human in posture nor expression - drugged dreams fixed into stone. It can be nothing else. Opium must have been the inspiration of the Khmer sculptors.
"Buried at the bottom of the Sea of Milk, so runs the myth, was the amrita, the food of immortality contained in a small bottle which could only be got by churning. The mountain of the World borne by the tortoise, Vishnu, is in the middle of this ocean. The Devas and the Assouras decided to bring up the amrita, if possible. They used the great serpent Vasouki - after twining it around the world mountain, as a rope to churn the sea. Its tail was held by the Devas and its head by the Assouras and for a thousand years they churned and churned, pulling first one end, then the other, in the Sea of Milk. First appeared Apsara, then Lakshmi, the Goddess of Beauty, then strange denizens of the deep and at last came the long-sought-for amrita; Vishnu took not only the Goddess of Beauty for his wife, but before the demons and demi-gods could claim the reward for their efforts, possessed himself of the food for immortality. What do you think that was, Madame? Opium, of course, that makes gods of men - while it lasts."
Returning to the Bungalow, we pass gangs of prisoners in leg irons working with armed guards. They are repairing the road and erecting over it arches gay with flags and flowers. The King of Cambodia is scheduled to pay a visit to-morrow night [4]. It is to be a gala affair and special Cambodian dancers are coming for a moon performance on the vast causeway that leads from the west to Angkor Wat. Prisoners in chains from the colony of Polo Condor, naked save for ragged trousers, are toiling in the sweltering sun creating the pomp o£ royalty in which they have no share! Those outside and those inside the picket fence of privilege. For how many thousands of years has this been a recurrent picture in this land!
Sturdza remarks: "The Government gives the King of Cambodia sixty thousand piastres a month to keep a certain show, but he cuts a sorry picture compared with the vanished splendours of this place. The dances revive it best. I have arranged for a special performance tonight for Madame. There is a Dutch Commission of Archaeologists also leaving to-morrow, who will share the expense. Madame is fortunate that it is full moon and that the special troupe of King's dancers are here. It will be a good performance. Have you heard the story of how Angkor was discovered?"
"Was it the naturalist, Moyhat?" [ADB: Henri Mouhot, of course.]
"Yes, Madame, he was looking for a certain plant. An old native told him that it could be found in the jungle where there were ruins of big cities. No, he would noy show where it was. It was cursed by the gods. Moyhat kept on exploring until he finally got to this great temple at Angkor. Then later a group of archaeologists saw wonders that the botanist had not seen - a delirium of stones set without mortar -a plan of gods. They decided that eight centuries had past since it had been inhabited. Then it was remembered that not long before Angkor was discovered a little old book written by a Chinese philosopher and traveller, Tcheu-Ta-Kouan, had come to light. The writer claimed to have been sent as Ambassador from China in twelve hundred and ninety-five and that the Bayon had a tower of gold, built in the ninth century, four hundred years before the Wat. He described a life of such gorgeousness that the book was tossed aside as imaginative fancies. Now it is the only record, reading like a fairy tale, that gives·us details of that opulent Civilization, at one time numbering thirteen millions. Of course many of them were slaves and prisoners of war, who slaved and suffered while making these marvels.''
Royal Dancers, Angkor Wat western causeway, c. 1931 (by Grace Seton)

Royal Dancers and a Fraught Romance at Angkor

About ten o'clock, mellowed by an excellent dinner, we walk a few hundred yards to the great causeway that leads to the Wat of Angkor. An unforgettable scene is staged here. Twenty-one dancers, gorgeous in new costumes for the king's visit, gold and velvet, reds, blues and browns, and silk sampots, are swinging in in the fan dance. Sixty-eight torches of bamboo filled with resin
from the yao (got from burning a hole in the big tree trunk) make orange spots in the strong moonlight. Incense is drifting around us. Strange music, monotonous with a melodic rhythm, almost syncopated, rolls from simple instruments, a xylophone, flute, a looseheaded
drum and a semi-circle of cymbals.
There is a Flower Ballet, and a Dance of the Giants, like nothing I have seen before, odd little twisting figures expressing emotions in alien, conventional patterns.
Then comes an Episode in the Legend of Chey-Teat. The gold and jewel-studded figures of the King and Princess wearing the Mukeeta, a spire-crowned headdress, kneel and salute us before the dance. Their supple fingers raised above the forehead, curved outward, like bird wings. Dancing barefoot, arms and fingers dislocating and weaving a tortuous tapestty in the cool light, the company enact the following drama which is quoted verbatim from the quaint little prepared programme:
"King Chey-Teat is hunting, with his wife queen Vorac-Chanand and his retinue. The chase is in full swing when Kantean, the Giants' king, appears, who wild with lust of the beautiful princess waits for a chance to carry her off. He does not have to wait long because distracted by the plucking of pretty flowers, which she loves passionately, she wanders away from her husband. And she has no thought that every step separating her from him brings disaster nearer and nearer. To her great terror, she suddenly sees the king of the giants start out upon her, who indifferent to her cries of grief and fear makes off with her through the air to his dwelling.
Chey-Teat masters himself after the first paroxysm of despair, and flies into a great rage. At once he raises an army, to go and battle in his retreat with the ravisher of his wife. After the bloody overthrow of Kantean who was in flight he takes back his darling home".
Beyond the causeway and the moat where I know a thousand lotos are sleeping, a female monkey is perched in an oil tree, baby hanging to her stomach. She is busily consuming lichi nuts, grimacing and chattering as though she too enjoyed the weird scene. Are those parakeets I hear in the forest calling to the moon? A small group of villagers, chewing betel, and some naked boys, are of the Eastern scene.
We walk back to the Bungalow amid the muted cadence of a tropic night, white in the moon brilliance, deep violet shadows under the sleeping trees. The charm of frog music joins the rhythmic rasping of the cicadas, accented by calls from birds of the night tracing here and there is a fleeting line athwart the Southern Cross.
Romance is abroad. The ardent urge of nature towards lavish growth and luscious flowering grips the imagination, already stirred by the unreal beauty of the King's dancers enacting the drama of gods and love under the clear radiance of moon magic.

In silence we loiter, prolong the walk. Contrary to custom Sturdza accompanies me to an open court, one of the many, upon which my little suite opens. A tilefloored, covered gallery connects it with others of its kind. Stepping from the white moonlight we stand within the deep shadow of this corridor. Still no word has been spoken. The impulse of the Asian night is strong.
Hovers on heavy wings in the purple shadow; drifts insidious fragrance from flowering trees. Facing each other our hands come together. Ten finger tips touch ten finger tips. Pressing-pressing-in tense contact. Subtle electric currents pass through them, thrilling, exquisite, compelling.
A long pulsing silence, then, breathed softly:
"George." He quivered. Only at Dak Lak have I risked the intimacy of his Christian name.
"I want to kiss you," excited, whispered.
"Perhaps-- if you will take it as a kiss -- with no future."
"No," intensely. "You must understand. You cannot play with Europeans. It is nothing -- or all."
"Then -- Good night --and sleep well."
He covers the hand extended. Presses one fervent kiss upon it. Straightens into a military salute; turns to leave.
The moon, the w-arm madness of the moon, flows down upon him.
He slips back into the deep darkness of the portico where I am still standing struggling between and common sense.
"Must it be good night? It would be so easy, so safe from intrusion. No one need know --and so beautiful!"Wouldn't it?"
My response hesitates. 'Why not snatch a flower when it beckons? A strange exotic flower; something different. Passion flowers. Mountain peaks. The old urge for experimentation lures.
Suddenly I lose the Occidental objective view of the East, cease to be the observer, the alien surveying the Orient as a background for his Western reaction; lose that sense of "racial superiority", however well or ill deserved; I am assailed by a desire to toss intellectual conceptions to the tropic night and melt into the feel of the East, to be one with its sensuous body, its bare feet padding the soft earth, its flexing muscles made for amorous play, flowers in the hair, naked bodies caressed by vivid coloured sunsets and hot languorous dawns. Ater years of Oriental travel to-night I feel Asia lift its curtain at the moonlit ruins of Angkor. I want to cast off so-called civilization, let conventions go to the soft winds. The East is wooing me like a lover, ardent yet subtle, beckoning deeper and deeper into the violet shadows. A dangerous mood - is this the way Sturdza feels - is this what has charmed him and the occasional European exile one meets in outposts-that young Frenchman, blood brother to the Pnongs, in the Moi jungle? The sentient, unhurrying, unashamed body of the East, silently, carelessly wrapping its warm arms around my spirit, unheeding, indifferent to the fabric of science, psychology, all the isms of written civilization. It snares the primitive senses and beckons to its bed of hard teakwood or woven bamboo or leaf-strewn earth -- it invites me, without lust to the rich secret of life, the incense of nature's beauty without evasion and hypocrisy which are the chains of civilization. Drink it if I have the c ourage-the dark spreading grip of the jungle might not let me go!
Sensing this hesitation, the sensitive soul of the man shrinks a little. He too values romance more than passion.
"And yet," I murmur, steadying ever towards the ideal.
"And yet," he echoes softly.
"Good night, Sir Galahad."
"Good night. It is better so. Un reve ravissant - et pur." He bows low. Is gone. -a dream, ravishing and pure - a pipe dream.
It is our last night at Angkor.

Months later, watching a Balinese ceremonial dance, Grace will be reminded of that riot of emotions in Angkor: "Vital ghosts of Angkor - hot purple, scarlet orange limned in black: they intrude upon the Balinese picture. They have no place in this sweet setting of luscious rose and gold, rich sepia and tender green." (p 262)

And the book closes with these lines: "The dark and sinister picture of Indo-China's decaying peoples under a foreign whip, the intriguing overlay of modernity on Siam's ancient opulent pattern and finally Bali's scroll of a happy people adjusted to their tropic scene. I leave them for the hysteria of Western civilization -- for home."

[1] The author seems to be unaware of Philippe Stern's 1927 publication establishing that the Bayon had been built after Angkor Wat, not before.

[2] The Bayon faces do seem "unnumerable", as even nowadays some say there are 217 of them, some 196. What we know is that 37 face-towers remain on the third level, out of 49 (or even 59, as argued by researcher Olivier Cunin) in the original temple plan.

[3] We are trying to find out whether Geoffrey Gorer and Grace Thompson-Seton were aware of each other's writings. Hypothesis of artistic creation under the influence of drugs in Ancient Ages was very much in vogue during the 1920s-1930s, especially amongst Western intellectuals influenced by Jungian psychoanalysis.

[4] This mention to the King's visit allows to date the time of Grace Seton's stay in Angkor: The 5-m high 'Bayon Buddha', exhumed by archaelogist Georges Trouvé, was installed in a pavilion east of Angkor Thom, inagurated on May 17, 1935, by H.M. King Monivong during a ceremony involving dances, religious rituals and mass gathering. It was the first time an example of Angkorian statuary was officially given back to popular worship.

Balinese women dancers and worshippers photographed by the author.

About dating the book: although Poison Arrows was published only in 1938, Lucinda Mackethan states that the manuscript was ready as soon as 1932. However, the mention of King Monivong's fastuous visit to Angkor seems to indicate Grace Seton was in Cambodia in May 1935. (see Lucinda Mackethan, op. cit. Curiously, this well-documented essay omits to mention Angkor and Cambodia in the list of Asian places visited by Grace Seton.)

Tags: Southeast Asia Grand Tour, drugs, women travelers, Bali, Bangkok, 1930s, colonialism, women, sensuality, travelogue, Vietnam Hill Tribes

About the Author

Grace Gallatin Thompson macckethan 2010

Grace Thompson-Seton

Grace Gallatin Thompson-Seton (28 Jan 1872, Sacramento, California - 19 Mar 1959, Palm Beach, Florida) was an American writer and suffragist who visited Angkor in 1936, part of a Southeast Asia grand tour she narrated in her 1938 book, Poison Arrows.

The adventurous, free-spirited Grace published her first book, A Woman Tenderfoot - a relation of her trip on horseback through the Rocky Mountains -- in 1900, then related in 1907 a hunting trip in the West in her book Nimrod's Wife. In 1924, it was Chinese Lanterns, in 1925 "Yes, Lady Saheb": A Woman's Adventurings with Mysterious India, and in 1933 Magic Waters, an account of her travel through the Mato Grosso and Paraguay.

An activist for women's rights, she was married to Ernest Thompson Seton -- one of the founding pioneers of the Boy Scouts of America -- from 1896 to 1935 (divorce), but they had separated in the late 1920s. Grace Thompson-Seton also established the Biblioteca Femina, a collection of volumes by women from all over the world, which was later donated to the Northwestern University Library, and she helped organize an international conference of women writers at the Century of Progress Exposition held in Chicago in 1933.

The ultimate 'Lady Traveler', she was, according to biographer Lucinda Mackethan, "a small, trim, attractive woman with elegant manners, at home in drawing rooms and at formal society affairs. Nevertheless, beneath the poses of fashionable hostess and dedicated militant lodged a restlessness and craving for adventure that, while consistent with Seton’s support of women’s rights, carried intention and force all their own."('Grace Gallatin Thompson Seton (1872-1959)', Legacy , Vol. 27, No. 1 (2010), pp. 177-194, University of Nebraska Press).

Always curious, sometimes caustic, she was a staunch anti-colonialist and would always look deep into the different cultures her travels exposed her to. She was enthralled by the beauty of Bali women, yet her own gender and her tactful descriptions set her apart from the Western travelers nowadays blamed for 'sexploitation' and 'cultural appropriation'.

Of note: she collected ''pornographic" illustrations during her trips to Japan and Paris (the fund is at Harvard University Library, Radcliffe Institute Repository).

Grace Seton, signed photograph, c. 1922. Archives of the Historical Society of the Town of Greenwich (in Lucinda Mackethan 2010, op.cit.)
With 'a young Mnong Hunter', photo by the author in Poisons Arrows.