The witch has a contender for supremacy in a fantastic animal, a mythical " lion " called Barong. Because of an ancient. feud with Rangda, he sides with human beings to thwart her. evil plans, and the Balinese say that without his help humanity would be destroyed. While Rangda is female, the magic of, the left,"" the Barong is the " right," the male. Rangda is the night, the darkness from which emanate illness and death. the Barong is the sun, the light, medicine, the antidote for evil.
Every community owns a set of the costumes and masks of both characters. These masks have great power in themselves and are kept out of sight in a special shed in the death temple of the village. They are put away in a basket, wrapped a magic cloth that insulates their evil vibrations, and are uncovered only when actually in use, when the performer-medium is in a' trance and under the control of a priest, and not before offerings have been made to prevent harm to the participants. At, the feasts of the death temples their masks are uncovered and exhibited in one of the shrines. It is a good precaution to sprinkle. These masks with holy water when someone is sick in the village.
the Rangda, the Barong is treated with great respect and the Balinese
address him by titles such as Banaspati Radja," " Lord of the
jungle," or as Djero" Gede', " The Big One," rather
than as Barong, which is only a generic name for his sort of monster.
In Pemecutan the Barong play began with a performance of djauk, a group of boys wearing grinning white masks, who danced to the delicate tunes of a legong orchestra called in this case bebarongan. After the dance the two Barong performers went under the costume that lay inanimate on two poles, the mask covered by a white cloth. Like a circus prop-horse, the Barong danced, wiggling his hind quarters, lying down, contracting and expanding like an accordion, snapping his jaws, and in general behaving in a comic, rather undignified manner for his awesome character. After his gay outburst of animal spirits, he began a long dance, staring around as if astounded by magic visions that filled the air. He was constantly on the alert for invisible enemies, growing more and more alarmed, clicking his teeth like castanets as the tempo of the music increased. Firecrackers began to explode at the far end of the arena, startling the Barong, and when the smoke cleared, the figure of Rangda appeared, yelling curses at the Barong, who appeared humiliated by her insults. But eventually he reacted and they rushed at each other, fighting and rolling on the ground until the Barong was made to bite the dust.
In the meantime
a group of half-naked men sitting on a mat went into a trance. They were
the assistants of the Barong against Rangda. A priest consecrated some
water by dipping the Barong's beard into it, and sprinkled the men, who
shook all over as if in an epileptic fit. With their eyes glued on the
Rangda, they got up, drawing their krisses, advancing like fidgety automatons
towards the witch, who awaited them ready with her white cloth, her weapon,
ready in her raised band. Suddenly she ran after them, but just then one
of the priests on watch noticed something unusual in her behavior and
passed the word that she was out of control. She was caught by a group
of strong men and led away, but not before she had put a spell on the
entranced men by joining the thumbs of her outstretched hands and yelling
By the spell,
the krisses in the hands of the men turned against them, but the magic
of the Barong hardened their flesh so that, although they pushed the sharp
points of the daggers with all their might against their naked chests,
they were not even hurt. This was the explanation the Balinese gave of
the strange exhibition and it seemed inconceivable that they were faking
such was the earnest force with which they seemed to try to stab themselves.
Some leaped wildly or rolled in the dust, pressing the
It is said
that only by a complete trance can the dance be performed with impunity;
otherwise a man will wound himself or hurt others. They were closely watched
and if one of them gave signs of returning to consciousness he was quickly
and violently disarmed. Possessed as they are, they have supernatural
strength and it takes many men to hold them down. Even after the kris
has been wrenched away they continue to dance with a blank stare and with
the right fist still clenched as if grasping the kris handle. To take
the men out of the trance, they were led, one by one, to where the Barong
stood; someone sucked the bleeding chest of the wounded man and stuck
a red flower in the cut. The pemangku wiped the face of each man with
the beard of the Barong dipped in holy water, and gradually the hysterical
men came out of the trance, dazed, simply walking away as if they did
not know what had happened to them.
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