At the start of the new year of 2016 the enchanting island of Bali will come alive with an event that highlights various styles of Barong, the life-size mythical lion that personifies Goodness. The Bali Barong Festival 2016 will take place from the 22nd to 23rd January 2016 at the Art Center Cultural Park in Denpasar.
The Festival underscores the theme “Regeneration in Competition” which is part of efforts to continue preserve traditions for future generations. The festival will feature competitions on different types of Barong as known in Bali, including the Barong Ket, Barong Buntut, as well as the art of Makendang, the traditional accompanying Percussion instruments. The Festival also includes a Photography Exhibition, and various Barong creative art exhibitions.
In the Balinese mythology, Barong is a prominent character that has taken the form of a lion and is regarded as the King of the Spirits representing Virtue. On the opposite side, Evil is represented by another mythical creature called Rangda which is the demon queen. As a mirror of life itself, the two are forever involved in an unending battle as is portrayed in the Barong Dance. Just like the Sanghyang Dance, the Barong Dance is native to Bali, predating even the Hindu influence. Barong is portrayed as a lion with a red head, covered in white thick fur, wearing gold jewelry adorned with pieces of mirrors. Just as in the Chinese Lion Dance, Barong involves two persons who dance in synchronized movements to portray the lion in action.
In the dance drama called Calon Arang, Barong appears to counteract Rangda’s use of magic to control the world and kills her, thus restoring balance in nature. In the traditional Barong dance, he is portrayed in fights against Rangda. This the most popular and sacred held dance in Balinese culture. The Barong would dance around the village streets following the Calon Arang dance movements while a priest sprinkles holy water upon it.
In Bali each region has its own protective spirit for its forests and lands. For each region Barong is modeled after a different animal. Barong Ket or the Lion Barong is the most common type of Barong found in almost every part of the Island. While Barong Buntut is a type of barong which only features its front and is usually performed by a single dancer only.
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