Newer than the Odyssey and older than Hansel and Gretel? Beowulf of Bali? Am I warmer? Hotter?
Are tongues of flame leaping from my nostrils and my mouth, devouring banyan trees and instantly turning nearby soldiers to charred mounds of flesh ??
Friends, I really have no idea what to say about Calong Arang besides:
- she was a witch and her name seems to mean “ready to barbecue” (swear! best translation I can make/find)
- who practiced the blackest of magic and sacrificed kids to Durga
- it’s a seminal tale, about 1000 years old, remembered better perhaps in Bali than Java
- totally connected to Rangda (witch), Barong (the lion), and trance dance
- Pramoedya covered it in The King, the Witch and the Priest A Twelfth-Century Javanese Tale
- one of the first Indonesian films (1927) went there; but now it’s lost (not the 1985 one)
- crops up a lot in Indonesian plastic arts, wayang and theater
- Gregory Bateson, Margaret Mead and Hildred Geertz (once married to Clifford) are among the only folks who’ve managed to comment at all without wholesale copy-pasting Wikipedia and ripping off jpegs from DeviantART
So Hildred Geertz (it seems) pointed out that, in Bali, it’s real magic — not just a story about magic — and the costumes are a big part:
[N]otions that [it’s] just a story are dispelled on recognizing that … the play is a practical act of attack and defense in a world teeming with … invisible beings …. who are willful, irritable and easy to anger, but [can also] be … benevolent …. [I]n Balinese rituals, the masks and [the] play bring the spiritual beings into contact with humans where they can be … bargained with, entertained and even threatened.
Enacting a narrative such as Calong Arang is a means for communicating with these beings and one of the main channels are the masks themselves, for masks can be, in Bali much more than mere costumes .
I warn you, stick with Google images. No matter what language you speak you’ll find nothing relevant about this topic. And if you go to a performance titled “Calon Arang,” again, that’s like saying “Hansel and Gretel.” It could be almost anything.
Spooky, man. Real spooky 8 ]