A black and white photograph of a Bali dancer sits propped beside me. When the image caught my friend’s eye, she tore it from National Geographic, pasted blue paper on the back, and sprawled a note in free and twirling handwriting: “Dear Ing, thanks for Friday …”

Taken in 1930, it is a profile shot spanning the thin, bare shoulders up to the towering and ornate headdress. She is quite young, perhaps 14 or 15 years. Long, thick hair piles in a mound on top of her head and flows down her back. Like unfurled wings of a peacock, the headdress crowns her.

The smooth lines of her forehead, nose, lips, and chin rise and fall softly. She stares directly ahead through half-closed eyes. I recognize in her posture the straight, erect bearing of a dancer. Her face is a contrast of light and shadow. Her eyes are somber and determined.

And now, years later, my friend and I pass this picture back and forth, captivated by something in this girl’s face. We hold in our hands the image of something sacred and immortal – the remembrance of a soul.

Advertisements