Indonesian Traditional Arts that Famous for their Mystical

One of the factors in the existence of ethnic and cultural diversity in Indonesia is that it’s an archipelago country.

When talking about the existing culture in Indonesia, you can’t separate from the art that is so unique and mystical. In fact, there are some Indonesian cultures that have been known for their mythology for a long time. But that doesn’t mean mysticism makes many people afraid to see them, but this mystique is the main attraction of these artistic cultures.

Are you curious about Indonesian Traditional Arts? Let’s get into it!

First, we have Kuda Lumping or Jathilan in Javanese is a traditional dance in which a group of people is riding horses. Where the horses they used are not genuine horses but horses toys which are made of bamboo or other material which is woven and shaped like a horse. This Indonesian art is originally from Madura.

In Kuda Lumping performance, besides performing soldiers on horseback, they also perform several actions. Starting from being possessed by a tiger, Semar, monkey, and so on. Even in the show, those who are possessed ask for strange foods such as glass, flowers of 7 shapes, gifts, and much more.

The second is crazy bamboo. A traditional dance performance featuring a group of young men who are struggling to resist the wild movement of a bamboo stick from Maluku. The performance of the “Crazy Bamboo” cultural dance begins with the burning of incense and the chanting of a mantra by the handler. In order to invite the arrival of a supernatural spirit moving the bamboo sticks, the smoke from the burning incense is blown on the bamboo sticks that are held by the players.

This ritual will cause the bamboo to feel heavier and move on its own. When the handler shouts the words “crazy, crazy, crazy” the attraction begins. This performance is usually accompanied by percussion music. The faster the rhythm of the accompaniment music, the faster the movement of the bamboo sticks will be. The players must struggle with all their might to resist the movement of the bamboo sticks that are controlled by the incense smoke by the handler.

Third, we have a Barong dance. Barong dance is a traditional dance that uses masks and costumes as the embodiment of creatures that are believed by Balinese people. According to Balinese beliefs, Barong Dance is considered a sacred art so there is also a mystical impression in it. This Barong dance is a traditional dance that is quite famous in Indonesia. Besides having artistic value, this Barong Dance also has spiritual meanings in it.

The origin of this Barong Dance is still not certain, but there are several historical versions that tell about the history of the early formation of this Barong Dance. The first is from Hindu mythology which explains that barong is taken from the word Bahruang in Sanskrit as an animal that is considered to have supernatural powers and is often referred to as a protector of goodness.

There are also those who say, Barong Dance was originally an embodiment of the rulers of the supernatural in Bali. At that time the Balinese people used this Barong Dance to ward off the interference of supernatural beings who were there. Even though there are many versions that mention the history of this Barong Dance, Balinese people still believe that Barong Dance is a legacy from their ancestors who are considered sacred and have spiritual values ​​in it.

Fourth, The Reog Ponorogo dance is a regional dance originating from the northwestern part of eastern Java, and Ponorogo is considered the real city of Reog's hometown. The city gate of Ponorogo is decorated with warok and gemblak figures, two figures who also appear at the Reog show. Reog is one of the regional cultures in Indonesia which is still very thick with mystical things and strong mysticism.

The history of Reog comes from folklore. There are five versions of the story that have developed, but the most famous is the story of Ki Ageng Kutu’s rebellion. It’s said that Ki Ageng Kutu, was a royal servant at the time of Bhre Kertabumi in the 15th century. He rebelled because he was angry with the king's government corruption and was strongly influenced by the wife of the king of Majapahit who came from China. He then left the king and founded a martial arts college. But realizing that his army was too small to fight against the royal troops, he made an art show Reog which was an allusion to the king of Kertabumi and his kingdom.

Fifth is Kecak dance which is a traditional type of drama dance from Bali. The dance tells about the Ramayana story which is performed with the art of movement and dance. This Kecak dance is one of the most famous traditional dances in Indonesia. 

Apart from being a cultural heritage, this Kecak dance is also one of the attractions for tourists who come there. According to the existing historical sources, this Kecak Dance was created in 1930 by Balinese artists named Wayan Limbak and Walter Spies, a painter from Germany.
This dance is inspired by the ritual sanghyang and parts of the Ramayana story. The sanghyang ritual itself is a dance tradition in which the dancer is in an unconscious state and communicates with God or the spirits of the ancestors and then conveys their hopes to the community. 

The name Kecak Dance itself is taken from the word "cak..cak..cak" which is often shouted by the dancers, so this dance is known as the Kecak Dance. In the show, the dance begins with incense burning, then the entourage enters the stage while chanting the word "cak ... cak ... cak". Then they form a circular line, in the middle of which is used for dancing. In this Kecak dance performance, the dancers will play roles from the Ramayana story, such as Rama, Shinta, Rahwana, and other characters. 

The movements in this dance are not too fixated on the grip so that the dancer is more flexible in moving and focuses on the storyline only. Sometimes there are also some funny scenes that the dancers show. In addition, several attractive scenes are also displayed such as fire games and other attractions. This is what makes Kecak Dance a sacred yet entertaining impression. 

Written by: Fergie Virgiyana
  • Posted at Thursday, 17 Feb 2022

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