October 11, 2014

0547, 1275 INDONESIA (Lesser Sunda) - Barong Dance - part of Three genres of traditional dance in Bali (UNESCO ICH)

0547 Barong Dance (1)

Posted on 10.03.2013, 11.10.2014
In Hinduism, dance is an accompaniment to the perpetual dissolving and reforming of the world. In the isle of Bali there are various categories of dance, the most known being Barong Dance, which illustrating the eternal battle between good and evil through the battle between Barong (a lion-like creature in the local mythology, the king of the spirits, leader of the hosts of good) and Rangda (the demon queen and mother of all spirit guarders).

1275 Barong Dance (2)

The story say that Rangda, the mother of Erlangga, the King of Bali in the 10th century, was condemned by Erlangga's father because she practiced black magic. After she became widow, she summoned all the evil spirits and demons to come after Erlangga, and she and her black magic troops were so strong, that the raja had to ask the help of Barong. The fight begun, and Rangda casted a spell that made Erlangga soldiers to want to commit suicide, stabbing themself with their own kris.

Meanwhile Barong and a priest have casted protective magic on these men, which made them invulnerable to sharp objects. At the end, Barong won, and Rangda ran away, so the evil was defeated, and the celestial order was restored. 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 from Mount Agung, and offerrings must be presented.

They are several versions of the Barong Dance, such as Barong Ket, Barong Asu (Dog Barong), Barong Macan (Tiger Barong), Barong Gajah (Elephant Barong), Barong Bangkal (Pig Barong) - wanders from door to door to cleanse the territory of evil influences. In Bali, the temple dress (adat), is not a matter of choice, but a symbolic gesture, compulsory for everyone, because has a divine origin.

Moreover, the purpose of it is to control certain emotions and desires, associated with chakras (energy centres of the body), and to focus attention on a higher purpose. The dancers from the postcard bears a cloth named kamben, which consists of lengths of cloth (usually batik) draped, wrapped around the waist on the left-hand side (the men ties it in the centre). It is secured at the waist with the sabuk, a wide sash several metres in length, repeatedly wound around the torso between the top of the hips and the solar plexus.

They bear also an upper garment called anteng, which is wrapped tightly around the upper body leaving the shoulders free. The dance costumes are of songket, a textile made by a special technique, in which additional patterns are woven into a material with supplementary weft threads. Gold and silver threads are used in this textile, made from silk, cotton or rayon.

Barong Dance is part of Three genres of traditional dance in Bali, included by UNESCO in Intangible cultural heritage (ICH) in 2015, about which I wrote here.

About the stamps
On the postcard 0547
Both stamps are part of a series of four, Year of the Dragon (Naga Tahun), about which I wrote here.

On the postcard 1275

The four stamps form the series General Election 2014, issued on January 9, 2014. Stamp design is the work of the Indonesia Stamp Design Contest 2013 winner for each age group:
1/4 General Elections for People (2.500 IDR) - It's on the postcard 1275
2/4 Elect People's Representative (2.500 IDR) - It's on the postcard 1275
3/4 People's Democratic Party (2.500 IDR) - It's on the postcard 1275
4/4 General Election's Mascot (2.500 IDR) - It's on the postcard 1275

Barong Dance - INM Asia Guides
Dances & Drama - Bali Directory
Balinese Dress and Balinese Textiles - Murni's
Traditional dress - Inside Indonesia

Sender 0547: Yenny Rere Andreastuti (direct swap)
Sent from Balikpapan (East Kalimantan / Indonesia), on 13.03.2012
Photo: Steve Vidler
Sender 1275: Nofar Harmoko (direct swap)
Sent from Tegal (Central Java / Indonesia), on 10.04.2014

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