Barong and Rangda dance

Barong and Rangda are probably the most well-known dance in Bali. Barong symbolize the energy of masculine, wisdom, intelligence or “purusha” and Rangda symbolize the energy of feminine, power, prosperity or “pradana”. This dance actually performs show that explains how purusha and pradana unite together and become the power of “ardhanareswari” the unity energy of men and women that create evolution.

It is little bit misunderstanding what this dance usually spoke nowadays as the fight between good and evil. Barong is a good, who fight Rangda the bad. This not completely wrong, since not every Balinese know this thing. So for more ease, they make an assume that was a fight between good and evil.

Now, the latest cultural study research on Balinese culture found that Barong and Rangda not just only about mask dance performance, but has a deep meaning that explains about “Cosmic Fertilization”.

How come cosmic fertilization? let’s flashback to the story of Calonarang, the event where this dance was taken.

The Beginning

In the Daha Kingdom period, long ago in the past, where Bali and Java Island still one island, there is lived Calonarang, a mother, women sorcerer from Girah village, who is furious because she cannot find a suitable husband for her daughter Ratna Manggali. All the eligible young men are scared and no one wants to marry her daughter because of Calonarang power and black magic.

So, Calonarang gets revenge by wreaking havoc over the kingdom of Daha. The king, Erlangga, tries to punish her, but all his attempts fail. Calonarang kills all the soldiers that he sends to destroy her.

Afterward, Calonarang decides to destroy entire Daha. She summons all her disciples and in the still of the night, they go to the Setra Gandamayu cemetery, to present offerings of dead flesh to acquire power from the goddess of death. The entire kingdom is soon hit by “grubug” (a plague) and the villages quickly become cemeteries, people dying even before they can bury their dead. Corpses are scattered everywhere and the stench is unbearable. The only person who can defeat the sorcerer is Mpu Bharadah or Sage Bharadah. The husband of calonarang itself, who before already separate each other because of different knowledge principle they take. Bharadah takes white magic, while Calonarang takes black magic. 

Next, at the king’s request, Bharadah sends his disciple Bahula to steal Calonarang’s magic weapon. Bahula pretends to ask for Ratna Manggali’s hand in marriage, and while Calonarang is away, Bahula steals the magic weapon with the help of Ratna Manggali. Then he gives the stolen weapon to his teacher Bharadah. The weapon turns out to be a manuscript containing the key to ultimate release Calonarang power.

Then, Bharadah with thousand of Daha soldiers goes to challenge the Calonarang. The battle was very fierce, Bharadah uses all his energy and transforms into Barong to spread power and burning spirit to all soldiers. Feel stronger, all these men soldiers then start to scream and stab Calonarang with sharp keris (iron knife) from every direction.

Feeling pressed, Calonarang also transform into Rangda form. The mighty and scary highest form of black magic knowledge. Rangda cast a spell that made all soldiers wanted to kill themselves, pointing their poisoned keris into their own stomachs and chests. Barong cast a spell that turned their body resistant to the sharp keris. Through this battle, many of Daha soldiers are dead. Both sides are really not willing to budge.

After hours fight, finally one of the soldiers succeed to stab straight into Calonarang stomach. Finally, Calonarang got weakened and just before being killed, she asks her husband Bharadah, to be released from her black magic curse. Bharadah approves it then give purified to Calonarang and they both went to the spirit world.

After the battle, suddenly the atmosphere in all villages become normal. People feel the calm and peace-refreshing vibration in the entire kingdom. They can live normally in peace, and do their daily activity, go the farm or trade. Since that, people always remember the story battle of Calonarang. Then, they create the theatrical dance and perform in the every birthday of the village temple in Bali until now.

The Philosophy of Barong and Rangda

It is unique because somehow the dancers who perform this, can become trance while dancing, and act exactly just like the event occurs in the past. Some old man said this because in Bali the energy is kept pure, that’s why it can awaken to purify all the villages in certain time of temple birthday.

Now back, to the present time. The science philosophic explanation about Barong and Rangda is like this:

Barong comes from the word “Barung” which is means same form. Barung in men is the sperm, where this thousand sperm has same the form. This we can see when all the young men Bharadah principles are all in the same form in battle.

Rangda came from the word “Rang-Du” which means one intact round. Rangda in women is the egg cell/ovum. Where the egg cell is only one in women reproduction and shaped complete round. This we can see is the Calonarang itself that she is the only one powerful feminine in the battle.

The battle itself symbolize when thousand sperm goes inside ovarium, they will struggle and swim in the acid liquid through it. And then finally, only one sperm, the strongest, that can reach and fertilize the egg cell. This all process, in the end, creates evolution. Create a new life. This is why, in the deep meaning, Barong and Rangda perform “cosmic fertilization”.     

Calonarang probably the most well known sacred dance for every Balinese. It is also another story telling dance, narrating the great battle. This dance is the classic example of Balinese way of acting out and express their culture. This also a prove and message that in the past their ancestor are really intelligence and design this dance performance to make their generation in the future can also feel the enjoyment, vibration, purified of “ardhanareswari” or the unity of men and women.  

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 and offerings must be presented.

An amazing story isn’t.

We were lucky since Sahaja Sawah Resort is located in the middle of many villages. Come and stay with us, we can guide you to the nearest Barong and Rangda amazing performance around here. See you in Bali!.


painting by i gusti gede kwanji