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"Humanising A Demon: Rangda" fine art print.

Rangda (Origin: Java/Bali) is the witch from the lore of Calon Arang which is often told through the traditional Barong dance. It is said that Rangda was based on a real queen, Mahendradatta, a Javanese princess who then married the Balinese King Udayana. Mahendradatta was the mother of Airlangga, who became a powerful King. Mahendradatta allegedly practiced witchcraft and worshipped the warrior goddess Durga who’s linked to Kali. She wasn’t liked by the court. Perhaps because she was a foreign Queen. Perhaps because she was a witch. Other sources claimed that Airlangga was the son from a previous marriage and she was a queen regal instead of queen consort. Her status was quite powerful and it sounds too familiar to paint a powerful woman as a witch or a hag especially in a patriarchal society. She was exiled and hence the name widow stuck with her. Rangda in old Javanese language means widow.

Rangda herself is usually pictured to be this frightening hag. Wild hair, big googly eyes, topless and showing off her sagging breasts. She breathes out fire through her fanged teeth and her nails are long claws. She is said to be the mother of leyaks, a scary demon spirit who is basically a flying head with its entrails still attached. As a child, I could never sleep if someone even mention the word leyak.

It is said that Rangda’s grimoire was written on “daun lontar” (dried palm leaves). In the lore Calon Arang, she casted a spell on the men who were fighting her that they turn their keris daggers unto themselves. She cursed a whole village with plague.

Whether or not Rangda’s character is based upon prejudice, the fight between Barong (good) and Rangda (evil) is an important aspect in Balinese culture. Within ourselves we fight both forces day and night. Within us we have both; and keeping the balance is what makes us decent. We are not without faults and darkness.

This is a print of an original illustration made using pen ink.

Printed on a Hahnemühle matte archival paper. The weight is 308 gsm.

The size is 8 x 10 inch (203.2 x 254 mm).


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