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Home » People & Community, Tale

Pramoedya on Calon Arang Folk Tale  

by on Monday, 17 December 2007No Comment | 5,383 views

There are two old manuscripts of Calon Arang folktale. The first one is from Bali and the other is from Java and had been translated into Dutch by R. Ng. Purbatjaraka in Bijdr. K. I deel 82 page 110-180, and then it was sung in traditional symptom by Raden Wiradat and published by Balai Pustaka in 1931 (book series no. 942). Pramoedya Ananta Toer rewrote this folk tale in Javanese version which was written in 1462 of Caka Lunar Calendar and some other folk tales in order to save the existence of the folk tale itself which begins to disappear.

Calon Arang performance on The Annual Bali Arts Festival 2006

In the book of Pramoedya entitle ‘Cerita Calon Arang’ – the Story of Calon Arang, mentioned that Mpu Baradah, a great priest who defeated Calon Arang has a daughter named ‘Wedawati’, Weda is the Hindu’s Bible and Wati is an address for a girl or woman. So, ‘Wedawati’ is the girl who learns Weda. In his writing on Calon Arang he made some characters have same proportion; it seems that there are many central characters inside. They are: Calon Arang, King Airlangga, Mpu Baradah, and Wedawati. In the Balinese version Wedawati is not mentioned but Ratna Manggali, the daughter of Calon Arang is told more.

Calon Arang performance on The Annual Bali Arts Festival 2006

A lot of critiques arise for this writing from the woman activists, they said that the description intend to corner women. Yes, Pramoedya describes Calon Arang as an evil woman, really bad, greedy, cruel, her behavior is worse than animals. But the question is, ‘does a sin choose someone to do a crime or someone has right to choose whether he/she wants to be good or not?’ Besides that Wedawati is described as a kind woman, smart, firm, and strong. The story of Calon Arang itself shows that women have power and they can be equal with men.

Calon Arang performance on The Annual Bali Arts Festival 2006

Who is Pramoedya?
He is the only one of Indonesia representative who was listed to achieve the Nobel Prize. He spent most of his life in jail and place of exile without jurisdiction process. He was declared not guilty and not involved in G-30-S PKI (the 30th September Movement of Indonesia Communist Party) in 21 December 1979. He has generated more than 50 works and has been translated into 42 foreign languages. He got a lot of International Award, they are; The PEN Freedom-to-write Award in 1988, Ramon Magsaysay Award in 1995, Fukuoka Cultur Grand Price-Japan in 2000, The Norwegian Authours Union in 2003, and Pablo Neruda Award in 2004.

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