Friday, October 25, 2013

Full Moon Dance (Barong) - Bali, Indonesia (photo post) by Tamsyn

Hi all,

Been having many adventurers in Bali. Just got our passports back with visa extension, so in the next day or two we will be sailing on northwards towards Borneo and Singapore.  We went to this once a month ceremony weeks ago and Tamsyn wrote about it for school, so here it is through her eyes - with Carrie's  pictures!


The Moon Dance (for Grandpa John)
by Tamsyn

Three days ago on the full moon, my family and I, went to the moon dance on Serangan Island, Bali. Bali is a big island in the Indonesian archipelago. The moon dance is a large Hindu prayer. It happens on the full moon each month, we saw it in September. We had to wear some borrowed sarongs, (sarongs are a piece of cloth that you wrap around your waist.) The dance was performed in a Hindu temple.

At first when we arrived the temple seemed empty, but then we saw some people playing weird instruments. The music they made was beautiful in an eerie way. Mom immediately recognized it as Gamelon, a music found in Indonesia. It was made with big gongs, some kind of odd bells, flutes, cymbals and a few drums.

Then we went into the heart of the temple. The statuary was amazing! Stone from which the temple was made had such tiny designs it seemed impossible that they could have been hand carved, yet here they stood. There were several doors in the sides of the walls that lead to little rooms that had statues of gods in them. One of the doors had a pair of stone dragons guarding it.

Mom went to take pictures of some dancers in costumes. The costumes had fancy designs on them and were painted with gold leaf. There were seventeen dancers, four of them were boys and the rest were girls. We followed the crowd back to the first part of the temple. It was like a big courtyard of grass with an area at the back where the Gamelon music was played.

Then the moon dance began. It was like nothing I had ever seen before! First there danced out the thirteen girls with big gold hats on, actually the hats looked a little like crowns. The also had on masks that looked like pretty women's faces as well as fans in their hands. Their dance was not like what you are probably thinking, it was more a fluttering of finger tips and a waving of fans.

Suddenly out danced the boys and believe me their dance was completely different from the girls dance. They had on masks with demon faces and gloves with five inch long plastic fingernails. The boys charged the crowd waving their gloved hands around. It was a pretty weird sight.

After that part of the dance was over, all the dancers sat down to rest. In a few minutes out came the dragon! The dragon was a big two person costume made mostly of yaks fur. It's head was a large mask. I later learned that the dragon's Hindu name was 'Barong'. The music Barong danced to (or more like moved to) was  like a cross between the music in the movies, "The 7th Voyage of Sinbad" and "Forbidden Planet".

The girls and boys now got up and started dancing with Barong. This lasted for a while until the girls and boys walked out. Their act was over. The dragon was put in a corner so that the two men that had been carrying him could rest. They looked hot, so would I, that dragon was hot and heavy.

Then out came a person dressed like 'Suly' in "Monster's Inc." He is 'Rangda' which in Hindu (or Balinese) means evil spirit. Rangda howled at the moon, laughed a very weird laugh and waved a white cloth in the air. This continued for about half an hour, it only stopped once when he charged the crowd scaring half the people watching of of the temple! Soon after that little bit of fun, Baron got up and danced with Rangda. The moon dance ended when the two were carried away like they were possessed. Altogether I would say it was quite an interesting dance.

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