Rangda

Rangda

Rangda is the demon queen of the leyaks in Bali, according to traditional Balinese mythology. Terrifying to behold, the child-eating Rangda leads an army of evil witches against the leader of the forces of good - Barong.

It is suggested that Rangda may be derived from the 11th century Javan queen Mahendradatta who was exiled by the king, Dharmodayana, for allegedly practising witchcraft against his second wife. The tale surrounding this is that she proceeded to take her revenge by killing off half the kingdom, which by then belonged to her and Dharmodayana's son Erlangga, with plague before being overcome by a holy man. The name Rangda means "widow".

Rangda is important in Balinese culture, and performances depicting her struggles with Barong or with Erlangga in that tale are popular tourist attractions as well as tradition. She is depicted as a mostly nude old woman, with long and unkempt hair, pendulous breasts, and claws. Her face is traditionally a horrifying fanged and goggle-eyed mask, with a long, protruding tongue.

Bali is a Hindu island, and it is suggested that Rangda may also be associated with Durga, the Hindu mother warrior goddess, and Kali, the black mother goddess of destruction, transformation and protection in Hinduism. While Rangda is seen as fearsome and by many as the personification of evil, she is also nevertheless considered a protective force in certain parts of Bali, much like Kali is seen as a benevolent mother goddess in the Indian states of West Bengal, Assam and Kerala. The colors associated with her - white, black and red - are identical with those associated with Kali. Her iconography is similar to that of both Kali and Chamunda, who are closely related.

Further reading

  • "Lions, Witches, and Happy Old Men: Some Parallels between Balinese and Japanese Ritual Masks"
  • Margaret Coldiron. Asian Theatre Journal : ATJ. Honolulu: Fall 2005.Vol.22, Iss. 2; pg. 227, 26 pgs

External links

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