Sunday, March 25, 2012

Indonesia -- Day 13 Barong and Keris Dance (Part 1), Batubulan Village, Ubud

Today our Adventures Abroad itinerary stated:

Today we have a full day exploring the Ubud area. In the morning we attend a Barong traditional dance performance. The Barong play represent an eternal fighting between good and evil spirit. A Barong (a mythological animal) represent good spirit and Rangda (a mythological monster) represent the evil one. Bali is known for its fine arts, and it is in this village that most of the best batik painters, mask carvers, dancers, weavers, and musicians live. This is an excellent place to buy authentic Balinese handicrafts.
          Overnight in Ubud. Meal plan: Breakfast and dinner.

Me;) with two of the greeters for the Barong Dance.  
Below I have included several descriptions of the dance.  The ones in italics have been borrowed from other sites and I have added the links back to them.

Barong Dancers getting ready for the performance.

The Barong dance is performed everyday at 930am.  It is the story of Good vs. Evil.  The dance is about an hour long and is extremely intricate.

This woman was making each of the flower "kebabs".

This woman has a pile of hibiscus and frangipani flowers.  She tears them up into specific pieces and then adds them to the kebab stick making a flower.

Barong Dancers getting ready, Ubud

It was 9am in the morning and these ladies were already quite a bit into the art of getting ready for the performance.

Barong Dancing fixing her hair, Ubud
The monkey man having a smoke while waiting. Ubud

Amazing detail of the flowers that the woman was making.  
As you can see from above. The two types of flowers are red hibiscus and white and yellow frangipani.

First the white and yellow frangipani flower was torn up so that there were only yellow pieces of petal.  These were overlapped into a circle shape and then pierced onto the sharp long toothpick like stick.  The stick already had a red dot of hibiscus on it.

Making Barong headdress flowers, Ubud
Second, a hibiscus is torn into individual pieces of red petal.  These are also overlapped into a larger circle shape and stabbed onto the stick.

Making Barong headdress flowers, Ubud
Third, a white and yellow frangipani flower is pierced as well to round out the flower.  As fast as I was taking pictures this woman was making the flowers.  The woman would then pick them up and insert them into their hair.

Barong Dancers adjusting their flower headdresses. Ubud
As you can see from above.  The dancers here were just using the white and yellow frangipani flowers on sticks and then arranging them in their hair.  The grace and precision is just something I could have watched all day. I wonder what the wait of this is?

Muscians waiting to get ready, Barong Dance, Ubud

The muscians area getting ready to play, Barong Dance, Ubud
The Barong made his entrance, Ubud

The Barong, Ubud

The barong creature is manipulated by two men.  The front man controlls the feet and the head.  The second man literally brings up the rear ;)

The monkey man, Barong Dance, Ubud

This is the story behind the Barong Dance:

The final fight between the Barong (good) and Rangda (evil) is preceded by a play called Calonarang. Calonarang was a legendary queen who was accused of practising black magic. According to some versions of the story, she killed her husband by pointing with the left hand at him, in others, he just plain deserted her. Anyhow, she becomes known as the Widow (Rangda) and turns into a terrible  Leyal (witch-monster) that is finally killed by a saint who assumes the form of the Barong.

Every performance starts with a short prologue that features a scene with monkeys in a forest and has no connection to the rest of the story other than to show the good character of the Barong. After the prologue, two young girls perform a Legong, a very abstract and difficult dance.

Barong Dance, Ubud

Barong Dance, Ubud 

Barong Dance, Ubud 
Isn't the flower headdress beyond amazing?  Look at the detail of the rows closer to the hairline.  These were frangipani in yellow and white with the white petal parts ripped off to make little yellow circles.

Barong Dance, Ubud  
The dresses or costumes are incredibily intricate and colorful.  With all the rich textures and vibrancy they are utterly beautiful.

Barong Dance, Ubud  
The headdress from the back.  You can see all the toothpicks.

Erlangga, Barong Dance, Ubud

The Barong dance is named after the Barong character in Balinese mythology. He is the king of the spirits and a protector of good. Often symbolized by a lion, the Barong is a sacred symbol to the Balinese. Before a performance, a priest must make offerings before the masks are brought out. In short, the Barong dance symbolizes how good overcomes evil, and balance is restored.
No other dance symbolizes the Balinese view of history better than the Barong. It combines both mythology and history to tell the epic tale of Erlangga, the King of Bali in the 10th Century, fighting his mother Rangda who has been accused of practicing black magic. Once Rangda becomes a widow she summons all the evil spirits to attack Erlangga and his troops. Erlangga is overpowered and calls for the assistance of Barong.
A second battle ensues, and Rangda casts a spell that causes all of Erlangga’s troops to try and kill themselves by stabbing their keris’ (short sword) into their stomachs. Barong countered her spell by making the soldiers’ bodies too strong for the keris to pierce the skin. Erlangga wins the battle with the help of the Barong and Rangda flees.
When Rangda casts a spell to send Erlangga’s troupes into a suicidal trance, the performance is aggressive, and real. The dancers often claim they enter trances with suicidal notions, and there have been instances of serious injury. It is not uncommon to see priests helping certain dancers come out of their trance with prayer and coconut water. With priests conducting offerings, music provided by Balinese gamelan, history blending with mythology, and dancers entering into trances, the Barong has it all.

Erlannga and his mother Rangda, Barong Dance, Ubud

Barong Dance, Ubud

The masks of Barong and Rangda are considered sacred items, and before they are brought out, a priest must be present to offer blessings by sprinkling them with holy water taken from Mount Agung, and offerrings must be presented. 

Barong Dance, Ubud

If you would like to visit Bali or Ubud or stay at the ARMA Bali  Resort
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Barong Dance, Ubud 

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