Calon Arang is a character in Javanese and Balinese folklore dated from the 12th century. Tradition mentioned her as a witch, master of black magic. It is still unknown who composed this story. An important manuscript written in latin-alphabet of the Calon Arang text is documented in the Netherlands, namely in the Koninklijke Instituut Bijdragen.
The story is originated from Bali. Calon Arang was a widow, powerful in black magic, who often damaged farmers' crops and caused disease. She had a daughter, named Ratna Manggali, who, though beautiful, could not get a husband because people were afraid of her mother. Because of the difficulties faced by her daughter, Calon Arang was angry and she intended to take revenge by kidnapping a young girl from the village. She brought the girl to a pura Mrajapati to be sacrificed to the goddess Dewi Durga on kajeng kliwon (the day of black magic). The next day, a great flood engulfed the village and many people died. Disease also appeared.
King Airlangga, who had heard of this matter, then asked for his advisor, Empu Baradah (sometimes spelled Bharada), to deal with this problem. Empu Baradah then sent his disciple, Empu Bahula, to be married to Ratna Manggali. Both were married with a huge feast that lasted seven days and seven nights, and the situation returned to normal.
Calon Arang had a lontar book that contained magic incantations. One day, this book was found by Empu Bahula, who turned it over to Empu Baradah. As soon as Calon Arang knew that the book had been stolen, she became angry and decided to fight Empu Baradah. Without the help of Dewi Durga, Calon Arang was defeated. Since she was defeated, the village was safe from the threat of Calon Arang's black magic.
Development of the story
This story can be divided into several acts:
At first the atmosphere in the territory of the Kingdom of Daha (Kadiri) is very peaceful. The king of Daha was named Airlangga. There lived a widow, named Calon Arang, who had a beautiful daughter, named Ratna Manggali. They both lived in the village of Girah, in the Kingdom of Daha.
Interpretation and analysis
In Balinese tradition, most often only focused on the fierceness and the evil deeds of Calon Arang. In historical perspective, Calon Arang and her demonic form Rangda were connected with the historical figure Queen Mahendradatta of Bali, who was a princess from Java and the mother of King Airlangga. Calon Arang was often portrayed as a fierce witch with a frightening face. However, a new perspective recently emerged which took Calon Arang's side and portrayed her more sympathetic and kindly. Toeti Heraty characterizes her as the victim of demonization within a patriarchal society, as a critic of a misogynistic culture and discrimination against women.
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