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Bali’s Cultural Dance
The Barong and the Kris Dance: The Eternal Battle Between Good and Evil
The wondrous island of Bali is not only blessed with fascinating beaches and outstanding landscapes, but it also has an amazing traditional culture that remains well preserved, highlighting the daily life of its people.
Barong is a story telling dance, narrating the fight between good and evil. Barong is a character in the mythology of Bali. He is the king of the good spirits and enemy of Rangda. In Bali each region of the island has its own protective spirit for its forests and lands
The Barong Dance is among the many art forms closely associated with spirituality, it is often performed in ritual ceremonies. Portraying the classic battle of “Good vs. Evil”, the dance is one of the most well-known and loved on the island.
In Balinese mythology, Barong is a prominent character taken the form of a lion, regarded as the King of the Spirits who represents Virtue. Barong is seen as ‘a guardian angel’. Opposing Good is represented by another mythical creature called Rangda (‘widow’ in Javanese), the Queen of Demons. Rangda leads an army of evil witches against the leader of the forces of Good. As a mirror of life, the Barong Dance portrays the two characters involved in a never-ending battle.
Similar to Sanghyang Dance, the Barong Dance is native to the Balinese culture that predates back to Hinduism. Barong is covered in white thick fur, adorned with gold jewelry and pieces of mirrors. Just like the Chinese Lion Dance, Barong involves two people dancing in synchronized movements to portray the lion in action.
In the dance drama called Calon Arang, Barong emerges to counteract Rangda’s use of magic to control the world. The men will fight each other with kris daggers, but upon the appearance of Barong, they turn their kris and stab themselves. The performers get into a trance state. Barong then defeats Rangda, thus restoring balance in nature. Meanwhile, the tranced men are reincarnated by the sprinkle of holy water.
Balinese people believe each region has its own protective spirit for its forests and lands. For each region, Barong is modeled after a different animal. Barong Ket (Lion Barong) is the most common type found in almost every part of the Island. While Barong Buntut is a type of Barong which only features its front, usually performed by a single dancer. Other types of Barong includes Barong Landung (Giant Barong), Barong Celeng (Boar Barong), Barong Macan (Tiger Barong), Barong Naga (Dragon/Serpent Barong).
Regular Barong dance performances can be found in many places in Bali, however, the most popular are performed by the Batu Bulan villagers in the district of Gianyar, or at Kesiman, Denpasar.