Barong is probably the most well known dance. It is also another story telling dance, narrating the fight between good and evil. This dance is the classic example of Balinese way of acting out mythology, resulting in myth and history being blended into one reality.

The Barong Dance is a story about the struggle between good and evil. The good, by Barong Keket, a mythological beast with an immense coat of fur and gilded leather vestments and evil by the witch Rangda. Typically Barong enters first, cleverly danced by two men who form the front and rear, while the man in the front controls the mask. The mask itself is sacred and undergoes a blessing by the priest before the performance. Rangda enters soon after. The two characters engage in battle, at which point the Barong’s keris-bearing followers rush in to attack Rangda. The hissing witch however, uses her magical powers to turn the keris knives in upon their owners, who subsequently fall into a trance and turn their knives upon themselves.

The Barong however uses magic to protect his followers from the knives although occassionally, the dancers do get hurt which to the Balinese is a sign of displeasure by the Gods and to be taken seriously.

The story goes that Rangda, the mother of Erlangga, the King of Bali in the tenth century, was condemned by Erlangga’s father because she practiced black magic. After she became a widow, she summoned all the evil spirits in the jungle, the leaks and the demons, to come after Erlangga. A fight occurred, but she and her black magic troops were too strong that Erlangga had to ask for the help of Barong. Barong came with Erlangga’s soldiers, and fight ensued. Rangda casted a spell that made Erlangga soldiers all wanted to kill themselves, pointing their poisoned keris into their own stomachs and chests. Barong casted a spell that turned their body resistant to the sharp keris. At the end, Barong won, and Rangda ran away.

Somebody can die or get seriously injured in a Barong dance. It is said that if Rangda’s spell is too strong, a weak soldier may not be able to resist it, even with the help of Barong. He may end up hurting himself with his own keris.

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.

At the end, the Barong triumphs and Rangda retreats to recoup her strength for the next encounter. All that is left to do is for the Pemangku, that is the priest, who sprinkles them with holy water to help the keris dancers out of their trance. The dance is lively and entertaining and not to be missed.

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