The Suitcase Lady


February 5, 2014, 8:54 am

I took Rangda to school with me the other day. A seventh grade teacher had asked if I could do a program on Southeast Asia. Since most schools consider geography a quaint anachronism, I was eager to contribute and suggested I could do a program on Indonesian art. That is how my spectacular mask of Rangda, the Balinese witch who represents all evil, took a field trip to school.

I began with basic facts about Indonesia, the fourth most populous country in the world and the largest Muslim nation. Consisting of 17,508 islands, Indonesia is the largest archipelago in the world stretching 3,200 miles along the equator. The land is generally covered with tropical rain forests and has tremendous biological diversity. Four hundred volcanoes including one hundred and fifty active ones dot the islands. Indonesia also hosts the only native population of Komodo Dragons in the world.

Art followed the facts, and I displayed intricate water buffalo skin shadow puppets, carved flying guardian figures and numerous masks from Bali. Rangda and her counterpart Barong were the finale. The Barong, a creature that looks like a cross between a lion and a dragon, is a good spirit. His face is seen everywhere over doors and gateways to ward off evil. Rangda is pure evil bringing death and disease and casting spells.

Masked, costumed dancers representing Barong and Rangda act out the struggle between good and evil. The Barong is never killed, but Rangda is never destroyed only temporarily vanquished.

The class was totally attentive and eager to find out what their art project would be. “Draw a mask of either Barong or Rangda”, I told them.

Before I left for school that morning, my husband predicted what the outcome of the art project would be……but I didn’t believe him. When I asked who would be drawing Rangda, 36 out of 40 hands shot up. My guy certainly called that one right. So much for goodness.

I am extremely pleased with the effort the students put into their artwork. Here are some of their creations.

1 Comment for this entry