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REOG, a ‘magnifique’ magical dance

October 16, 2008

Reog is an Indonesian traditional mask dance where the dancers carry a very heavy, ornamented tiger head with peacock feathers  in wide winged. This dance depicts a fight between a tiger and two noblemen on horseback. These masks are almost 50 kg heavy, worn by one man (called warok) by biting the wood inside the mask. It is impossible to normal teeth, that’s why all waroks are on trance conditions when dancing with this big heavy mask.

 

Reog originated from the glorious era of the Kediri kingdom around the l5th century.  The performance re-enacts a legendary battle between Pujangga Anom, a minister from the court of Ponorogo, and Singa Barong, guardian spirit of the forest of Lodoyo. The former had aroused the anger of Singa Barong when he stole 150 tigers from the forest, apparently to be offered as a dowry payment for a princess of Kediri, whom the king of Ponorogo wished to marry.

A typical reog troupe, then, usually consists of the principal characters; Singa Barong, wearing an enormous tiger head and peacock feather mask, and his adversary Pujangga Anom. They are accompanied by one or more masked clowns/acrobats, as well as a number of hobby horse dancers, who are said to represent the troops of Pujangga Anom.

The people of Ponorogo have a reputation for being tough, both physically and mentally. The qualities of bravery and daring are fully displayed in a reog performance, where the focus of attention is on a trance dancer supporting a giant mask, often weighing more than 40 kg, between his teeth. The mask is a ferocious, snarling tiger’s head, covered in real tiger skin and crowned with a gigantic three meter fan of peacock feathers.

The success of a performance, including the ability of the principal dancer to bear the weight of the mask, is said to depend upon the magical power of the leader of the dance troupe. Known as warok, these men are believed to possess special talents, gained through years of training. One of the unique features of the reog dance is that the hobby horse (jaran kepang) dancers are invariably young boys dressed as women. Known as gemblak, they accompany the warok, who are forbidden close association with females, in their travelling performances.

A tiger’s head and a wide-winged peacock are the principal features of the traditional Reog Ponorogo dance. The weight of this pair, called Dhadhak Merak, may reach 40 kg or even 100 kg, carried by one man, moving around, up and down. The tiger’s head symbolizes a hero. The man, warok, who bears it must have a magic power.

Dhadhak Merak, often known as Singobarong, is performed as a welcoming dance for honorable guests, or as attractions, complete with its attributes. For instance, the player of the role of Prabu (King) Kelana Sewandono, with his supernatural power, always carries an inhabited, holy whip.

Another man plays the role of a dancer, Bujangganong, a governor under the rule of King Kelana Sewandono. He is a hero with a bad face, bearing a mask with a red, long nose, untidy hair and tusked teeth.

The team of players is completed with riders on horses made of bamboo plaitwork or skin of animal. They symbolize the escorting soldiers of King Kelana Sewandono on his trips. Formerly these horse-riders were played by men called Gembak. But now they are generally women.

The total number of a Reog team is between 20 and 40 members, including the magical heroes (waroks) with open breasts and waist band, symbolizing their magic power.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Yohann Flubby permalink
    October 26, 2010 7:30 pm

    I thought this dance was from Malaysia, so that’s from Indonesia?
    what a shameful for me I should visit that country!

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