Bali Blog - Article About Bali Holiday Island
Bali Barong Dance7 April 2008
The barong that bushy-tailed, bulging-eyed beast is one of Bali’s greatest cultural hits. As a jet-set visitor to the “island of the God”, you know to creature as the winsome hero of the barong dance or as the confounded cause of some interminable traffic snarl. Indeed, you should be most carefully cloistered in nightclubs, surf breaks, spas or resort were you not at least once overrun by a boisterous barong procession. Lay aside, for a moment, all plans of beach or bar, and simply succumb to his splendor.
Gong! Gong! Gong! You hear it long before you see it the throng of barong devotees is headed up by a traveling gamelan orchestra, a crew who thinks nothing of toting half a ton of bronze from one banjar to the next. The scintillating, hypnotic tones build on the approach, captivating all onlookers with a lively solo progression drums clap, cymbals crash, massive gongs mark the downbeats. Bobbing along with the band are brightly colored umbul-umbul, long bamboo-pole flags sported by boys who can just barely manage them. And behind those, a canopy of satiny umbrellas shades the focus of the mayhem the mythical, mystical barong.
The barong mask perhaps a fanciful take on the lion form features giant, all-seeing eyes, fearsome teeth, wagging tongue, and clapping jaw. The beast is crowned in gold filigree and cloaked in a flowing mane of real hair and tinkling bells. More gold and mirrors adorn his shoulders and rump, each supported by a pair of bare shins and the latest in faux-teva fashion. Every so often, a heated human bearer is relieved of his task as another disappears into the shag. And so goes noble barong, loping along with all the aplomb of the classic clown horse.
As the last of the followers trail off-men young and old, kebaya-clad women bearing offerings and babes, kids awestruck, exhausted and up to no good a tide of trucks and motorbikes pulls in close behind. Back to Bali, business as usual.
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