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Barong and Keris Dance is a traditional Balinese dance performance that tells the story of the endless battle between Barong as a symbol of good spirit and Rangda as a symbol of bad spirit. In this story, Barong manages to win the fight. The show also features a trance dance attraction, where the dancer thrusts a dagger into his body without getting hurt. This dance has a deep meaning, teaching good values to create harmony in life. Barong is a Balinese mythological figure, considered the king of spirits and the leader of the gods who fought Rangda. Banas Pati Rajah is the fourth sibling or accompanies a child throughout life. Banas Pati Rajah is the spirit that inhabits Barong, often represented by a lion in performances of his struggle against Rangda, which is an important part of Balinese culture. Barong dances often feature two monkeys.

Here all you need to know about Barong and Keris Dance

  • What is Barong?
  • Types of Barong
  • Barong Keket
  • What is Rangda?
  • Barong and Keris Dance
  • Dance Story of Barong and Kris Dance
  • Dance Story Reflection of Daily Life
  • Location of Barong and Keris Dance

What is Barong?

Barong is a mythological figure that aims to protect Bali from the threat of evil. He is realised in various animal forms such as a lion, tiger, wild boar, buffalo, elephant, or dog, which are revered by the Balinese people. The existence of Barong has been a part of Javanese and Balinese culture since the people still have animist beliefs. In Bali, Barong characters combine animal faces with frightening yet kind characters, created to create a religious feel when performed. The Balinese Barong developed from the Ponorogo Barong or Reog, which was brought by King Airlangga when he fled to Bali to save himself. In addition to bringing Barong Ponorogo, Airlangga also introduced literature, Javanese script, and religious rituals. The influence can be seen from the difference in the Barong Ponorogo which does not use a peacock crown.

Types of Barong

The types of Barong in Bali have a variety of different appearances and functions, and the dancers are not arbitrary because it requires considerable training to perform this barong dance professionally. Some types of Barong that can be found in Bali are Barong Ket, Barong Bangkal, Barong Landung, Barong Macan, Barong Gajah, Barong Asu, Barong Brutuk, Barong Lembu, Barong Kedingkling, Barong Kambing, and Barong Gagombrangan. Each type of Barong depicts animals such as elephants, dogs, goats, oxen, and others with four legs. In performances, Barong is usually played by two people, one holding the head and one holding the tail. Although there are similarities with the Barong Sai dance from China, the Balinese Barong dance has its own distinctive dance technique. Balinese Barong is more prominent without performing attractions as is commonly the case with Barong Sai. One type of Barong that often appears in Barong and Keris Dance is Barong Ketket, which is performed by trained dancers with a touch of comedy that makes the audience feel happy and carried away in the storyline of the dance.

Barong Keket

Barong Ket, also known as Barong Keket, which appears in the Barong and Keris Dance Performance, is a combination of a lion, tiger, cow and dragon, producing the Barong face seen today. With a touch of traditional Balinese carving, this mask creates a mystical and spiritual atmosphere when witnessed. As a good character that symbolises the king Banaspati, Barong is considered the ruler of all spirits in Balinese mythology. The Barong Keket mask does not use wood carelessly, but is selected from certain trees, such as the Pule tree that grows in the graveyard area because it is believed to easily invite the presence of demons. The use of materials from graves is also believed to bring a mystical aura to this Barong mask. In a Barong Keket dance performance, two main people, called Juru Saluk, hold the head of the Barong and dance, while the other at the tail, called Juru Bapang, plays an important role. Good coordination between the two is necessary to create beautiful movements during the performance. The feathers on Barong Keket are usually made of perasok (fibre from pandanus leaves and palm fibre), although some have replaced it with crow feathers. As a mythological creature, Barong Keket is considered a protector who is good at guarding the island of Bali from various threats of negativity.

What is Rangda?

Rangda is a Balinese mythological creature that is presented as an evil character with a terrifying appearance. She is often told as a figure who kidnaps and eats small children, and is considered to be the embodiment of Dewi Durga. The name “Rangda” comes from an old Javanese word meaning “Widow”. In the past, the term “Widow” was associated with the Vaisya, Kshatriya and Brahmin castes, while the Sudra caste was not called “Widow” but “Balu”. So it can be concluded that the Rangda is related to caste, and most likely originates from the character of Queen Mahendradatta who lived on the Java island in the 11th century. Mahendradatta was exiled by King Dharmodayana after being accused of witchcraft against the the consort of the two kings. Legend has it that Rangda took revenge by killing half the kingdom, which then belonged to him and Dharmodayana’s son Erlangga. His position was then replaced by a wise figure. Rangda’s form is usually depicted as very scary, a woman with long messy hair, long nails, a tongue that sticks out, and long breasts. Her face is sinister with long, sharp fangs.

Barong and Keris Dance

Barong and Keris Dance is one of the traditional Balinese dances that describes the fight between Barong as a symbol of good and Rangda as the embodiment of evil. This dance is often performed as a cultural attraction that amazes tourists. At first, Barong and Keris dances were part of a religious ceremony called Calonarang, only performed on the day of the ceremony and in certain religious rituals. Over time, the Barong and Keris dances began to be performed separately as cultural attractions. Since then, the appreciation of tourists for this dance has been very good, so many dance studios have opened Barong performances in various strategic locations, especially in the Batubulan area. This performance is famous and is only performed in the morning. The storyline in this dance tells about the fight between Barong and Rangda, which is taken from the Calonarang story that was often performed at religious ceremonies. Like Kecak Dance, Barong and Keris Dance also depicts the battle between good and evil spirits. The Barong in this performance takes the form of Barong Keket, which is considered the most sacred Barong. Barong Keket itself has a strange appearance, half shaggy dog, half lion, and is played by two men in a style similar to horse clowns in a circus. His opponent is the witch Rangda.

Dance Story of Barong and Kris Dance

The story of the fight between Barong and Rangda is a major topic in traditional Balinese storytelling, often performed in Dalem Temple. One of the most famous stories is the Calonarang legend, which tells of a widow named Calonarang from Jirah. The widow was furious because it was difficult to find a suitable husband for her daughter, Ratna Manggali. All eligible young men were afraid of her black magic, so Calonarang decided to take revenge by bringing havoc to the kingdom of Daha. The king, Erlangga, tried to punish him, but all his attempts failed. Calonarang was even able to defeat all the soldiers sent against him. Feeling invincible, Calonarang decided to destroy Daha completely. In his quest, Calonarang summoned his disciples and in the dead of night, they went to the Setra Gendrainayu cemetery to make an offering of dead flesh to Durga, the goddess of death. Durga agreed to his plan of destruction despite warning the wizard not to enter the city of Daha. Calonarang ignored the warning, however, and as a result, a plague of grubug (disease) swept the kingdom.

Villages were turned into graveyards, and corpses were strewn everywhere and the stench was unbearable. The only person who could defeat Calonarang was Mpu Bharadah. At the king’s request, Bharadah sent his disciple Bahula to steal Calonarang’s magic weapon. Bahula pretended to propose to Ratna Manggali, and when the witch justify, with Ratna Manggali’s help, he managed to steal the weapon. Then he gave the weapon to his teacher Bharadah. The weapon turned out to contain a manuscript containing the key to ultimate liberation (moksa), previously used in reverse by Calonarang. Bharadah travelled to Daha to challenge Calonarang, and with the help of Barong, finally defeated him. Before being killed, Calonarang begged to be released from his curse and purified. The story goes on to relate that Rangda, the mother of Erlangga, the 10th century king of Bali, was cursed by Erlangga’s father for his practice of black magic. After becoming a widow, Rangda summoned evil spirits, leaks and demons to attack Erlangga. A great battle ensued, but she and her black magic army were too strong so Erlangga finally asked Barong for help. Barong came with Erlangga’s army, and a fierce battle between good and evil ensued. Rangda cast a spell that made Erlangga’s soldiers want to commit suicide, by thrusting poisoned daggers into their own stomachs and chests, but Barong cast a spell that made them immune to the sharp daggers. In the end, Barong won the battle, and Rangda ran away.

Dance Story Reflection of Daily Life

Barong dance is one of the traditional Balinese arts, with Barong as a symbol of goodness shaped like a lion. In this performance, it tells the story of the battle between Barong and Rangda, Rangda embodies evil with a giant form that has large canine teeth. Both reflect human traits in everyday life with good and bad behaviour, which can be referred to as Dharma (good) and Adharma (evil) in Balinese culture. The Barong, like a puppet that is moved by the dancers inside, is very heavy. The dance is generally performed by two large men who lift and move the Barong from the inside. A person can die or be seriously injured during a Barong Dance performance. It is said that if the Rangda’s spell is too strong, a weak warrior may not be able to resist it even with the Barong’s help, and may injure himself with his kris. Barong and Rangda masks are indeed considered sacred objects in the context of Balinese belief and culture. Before the performance, a priest must be present to give a blessing by sprinkling holy water from Mount Agung and offerings must be made. Barong dance is very famous and has high cultural and spiritual value in Bali. It is a dance that tells the fight between good and evil. In Balinese cultural understanding, this dance becomes a classic example of how to act out mythology, which results in myth and history becoming one part of reality.

Location of Barong and Keris Dance

Barong Dance performance locationsi are mostly located in Batubulan Village, Gianyar, Bali. This location is easily accessible as it is on the main road to Ubud village. One of the famous Barong and Keris Dance performances is Sahadewa Barong & Kecak Fire Dance, located at Pura Puseh Street, Batubulan, Sukawati District, Gianyar Regency, Bali 80582. The location can be found easily using Google Maps. Travelling from Kuta to the venue takes about 60 minutes, while from Ubud it takes about 30 minutes. For a more complete experience, you can choose a tour package such as the Full Day Ubud Tour that focuses on visiting tourist attractions in Ubud. Another option is the Ubud and Kintamani Tour package that combines visits to tourist attractions in Ubud and Kintamani in one day. If you want flexibility, you can hire a driver and car for a day, with affordable prices and excellent service that can make the journey to the Barong and Keris Dance Performance an enjoyable experience. Friendly and experienced drivers will ensure you arrive safely and comfortably.

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