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Queen of the leyaks and undoubtedly the most interesting' character on the island is the blood-thirsty, cbild-eating Rangda the witch-widow mistress of black magic.

A curious ceremony in the temple of a neighbouring village introduced Rangda to us. It was well after midnight, and although the date for the temple feast was still far off, there was a crowd, mostly women, in the courtyard sitting in a circle, around a man who appeared to be in a trance. Next to him sat the old pemangku, the temple priest, quiet and concentratin attending to the incense that burned in a clay brazier before a monstrous mask with enormous fangs. The community' it. seemed, was having a wave of bad luck and they were asking Rangda to advise them, through the medium, of what she required to leave them alone. The stillness of the night, the incense, and the dim light of the petrol lamp, all aided the feeling that the spirit of the dreaded witch was really there. Soon the oracle began to twitch and foam at the mouth, making painful efforts to talk. The mask was placed on his bead and the priest listened with intense interest to the incoherent groans, muffled by the mask, which he translated in a monotonous voice as the words of Rangda, now in the body of the medium. After the offerings that she demanded were enumerated, she reproached the villagers for neglecting to give a performance of Tjalon Arang, the play in which her triumphs are enacted. To end the ceremony the musicians played and Rangda danced; then the manwas taken out of the trance and Rangda, presumably, went back to her abode in the summit of the highest mountain, the Gunung Agung.

barongTime and again we saw Rangda. appear in various magic plays; she was invariably represented as a monstrous old woman, her naked white body striped with black. Rings of black fur circled her long, hanging breasts, realistically made of bags of white cloth filled with sawdust. She was entirely covered by her white hair, which reached to her feet, allowing only the bulging eyes and twisted fangs of her mask to be seen. Her tongue bung out, a strip of leather two feet long, painted red and ending in flames of gold. A row of flames came from the top of her head. She wore white gloves with immense claws and in her right hand she held the white cloth with which she hid her horrible face to approach her unsuspecting victims. This cloth became a deadly weapon if it struck.

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The character of Rangda has its origin in historical facts, now interwoven with fantastic myth. At the beginning of 'the eleventh century a Balinese prince became the king of Java, the great Erlangga. His mother, Mahendradatta, was a Javanese princess who ruled Bali with her Balinese husband, Dharmodayana, until the husband, suspecting her of practising evil magic, exiled her to the forest. When Erlangg:a's father died, leaving Mabendradatta a rangda, a widow, she conspired to use her band of pupils trained in the black arts to destroy Erlangga's kingdom. Professor Stutterheim says that her chief grudge against Erlangga was that be had failed to bring pressure upon his father not to take another wife. Moreover, none of the nobility would marry Rangda's beautiful daughter, Ratna Menggali, out of fear of the old witch, and her caste as a Javanese princess required a noble marriage or none at all. Before Rangda was vanquished by the superior magic of Mpu' Bharada, Erlangga's teacher, she bad killed nearly half of Erlangga's subjects by plagues brought by her leyaks. (According to Stutterheim, the sanctuary of Bukit Dharma near Kutri, gianyar, is the burial place of the famous witch. There is kept a weather-beaten but still beautiful statue of the witch, remembered as the Queen Mahendradatta in the shape of the goddess of death, Durga.)

The following is an extract of the current Balinese version o the story of Rangda (translated from the Kawi by R. Ng. Poerbatjaraka, in De Calon Arang) :

" The old witch rangda Tjalon Arang bad sworn to destroy the happy and prosperous Daha, Erlangga's kingdom, because of fancied insults to her beautiful daughter Ratna Menggali - the noblemen of Daha bad refused her in marriage for fear of her mother's evil reputation. Tjalon Arang went with her pupils to the cemetery and they prayed and danced in honour of Begawati, the deity of black magic, to help them destroy Daha. The goddess appeared and danced with them, granting her permission, warning the witch, however, to preserve the centre of the kingdom untouched. The witches danced at the crossroads and soon people fell ill in great numbers.

"On discovering the cause of the epidemic, Erlangga ordered his soldiers to go and kill the witch. They stole into her house while she slept and stabbed her in the heart', but Tjalon Arang awoke unhurt and consumed the daring soldiers with her own fire. The witch went once more into the cemetery and danced with her pupils, dug out corpses, cutting them to pieces, eating the members, drinking the blood, and wearing their entrails as. necklaces. Begawati appeared again, and joined in the bloody banquet, but warned Tjalon Arang to be careful. The witches danced once more at the crossroads and the dreadful epidemic ravaged the land; the vassals of Erlangga died before they could even bury the corpses they bore to the cemeteries.

" The desperate king sent for Mpu` Bharada, the holy man from Lemah Tulis, the only living being who could vanquish the witch. Mpu' Bharada planned his campaign carefully. He sent Bahula, his young assistant, to ask for the witch's daughter in marriage. Highly flattered, the mother gave her consent and after a happy and passionate honeymoon Bahula learned from his wife the secret of Tjalon Arang's power, the possession of a little magic, book, which he stole and turned over to his master. The holy man copied it and had it returned before the disappearance could be noticed. The book was a manual of righteousness and had to be read backwards. The holy man was then able to. restore life to those victims whose bodies bad not yet decayed. Armed with the new knowledge, be accused the witch of her crimes, but she challenged him by setting. an enormous banyan tree on fire by a single look of her fiery eyes. Bharada foiled the enraged witch by restoring ' the tree, and she turned her fire against the holy man. Unmoved, he killed her with one of her own mantras;' but she died in her monstrous rangda form and, Bharada, to absolve her of her, crimes and enable her to atone for them, revived her, gave her human appearance, and then killed her again.

It is only in the legend that Rangda could be vanquished; the Balinese perform the story of her struggle with Erlangga in a play, but always stop before the point where the tide turned against the witch.

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