Dance: Baris Jangkang (2009)

Baris Jangkang, crows on the lookout for eggs

Observations at Pelilit, a remote village in the southeast of Nusa Penida and the cradle of the Baris Jangkang suggest that this dance is considered a sacred dance.

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It is performed at the family temple (Pura Mrajan) at special occasions only, perhaps once or twice a year. The male dancers perform in rows armed with spears and dressed in sacred cloth called Kamben Cepuk. Their jolting movements to the sounds of rhythmic, essential gamelan music add to the original idea behind this dance. Volunteer armies used to be part of the Royal entourage. The dance takes a mere ten minutes, and is preceded by the less serious Rejang Dewa. These photographs were taken in Pelilit on 18 March 2009.

Films above: Rejang Dewa & Baris Jangkang by Dr. H.I.R. Hinzler - Pelilit, 2009.

The dancers of the Baris Jangkang all dance with a wooden stick, but they don't wear the traditional Baris costume, says writer I Wayan Kardji. Their clothes are simple and look like those worn by the dancers of the Baris Panah. Sometimes they use a 'kraras', the stem and midrib of an old and withered banana leaf, reminiscent of the Baris Cerekuak or the Barong Brutuk of Trunyan. The dancers' clothes somehow give the impression that this dance is done 'à l'improviste' (dedakdakan). Baris Jangkang originates from Nusa Penida. Photographs in another publications by (a.o.) I Wayan Kardji show the masks of both the Barong Brutuk from Trunyan and the Barong Brutuk from Nusa Penida. These masks are very similar and express a same kind of raw originality, very different from the refined masks found in the rest of Bali.

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Image right: Baris Djangkang, in Noesa Penida (Spies, Walter & Beryl de Zoete - Dance & Drama in Bali, Periplus 1938/2002; Plate 110, p.272b, December 1934 or 1938)

The Baris Jangkang consists of three parts. The first part of this dance in Balinese is called 'Gelatik nuwut papah', like the little Java Sparrow (Padda oryzivora) hopping over the stem and midrib of a palm leaf. The second part of the dance is called 'Goak maling taluh' (Crow stealing the eggs), and the third part is called 'Elo', where the dancer impersonates a drunken and confused person waving his head to and fro as though he is about to die. The performance shown here represents the crow that is after the eggs.

Claire Holt, in the mid thirties, also witnessed a performance at Pelilit. She, however, could not get detailed information about the difference between the various parts. In fact, the question still remains how birds should play such a prominent role in two of the Jangkang, given the fact that the Jangkang falls in the category 'Baris', i.e. war dances. Even more bewildering is the fact that a drunken dancer should conclude the Baris Jangkang.

With much anticipation, the author expects he will be granted the rights to publish a short film in black and white of about three minutes on the Baris Jangkang, shot in 1933 by Rolf de Maré. This very short sequence of the Baris Jangkang was shown as part of a larger collection on films on Bali in the thirties, organised in Ubud by Amandari Resorts, 14-17 October 2009. All films on Bali in the Thirties are owned by Museum of Dance in Stockholm, Sweden. Please, visit  http://www.dansmuseet.nu/

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Black attire, headscarf of feathers

In reference to Hauser (1997), discussions on the realtions of deities from Nusa Penida and the southern coast of mainland Bali, see Arya Sentong & Ngusabe, the prohibition of black headscarf, attire or feathers is mentioned. In the Baris Jangkang, crows feature in the second part of the dance entitled 'Crows stealing eggs' (Goak maling taluh). It is possible that there exists a connection with above story, as the elements 'black' and 'war' are present in the same context, a war dance. However likely this association may seem, nobody has been able to explain why crows would be looking for eggs, unless 'egg' is a metaphor for fertility, a concept which could be linked to a ritual connected with the ominous twins mentioned by Hauser, fertility possibly being associated with (incestuous) sexual intercourse.

Reference

  • Hauser-Schäublin, Brigitta - Traces of Gods and Men – Temples and Rituals as Landmarks of Social Events and Processes in South Bali Village, Dietrich Reimer Verlag, 1997

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