Bali Barong-Rangda

Citation metadata

Author: Tim Byard-Jones
Editors: Karen Christensen and David Levinson
Date: 2002
Encyclopedia of Modern Asia
From: Encyclopedia of Modern Asia(Vol. 1. )
Publisher: Charles Scribner's Sons
Document Type: Topic overview; Brief article
Pages: 1
Content Level: (Level 3)
Lexile Measure: 1080L

Document controls

Main content

Full Text: 
Page 224


Barong dances, among the most sacred in Bali, symbolize the intertwining of good and evil and the complex relationship between man and the supernatural. The term barong can apply to the dance, the mask, or the character depending on context. The barong animal mask represents good, and its types include the tiger, boar, and buffalo; the most characteristic, however, is the barong kek, a mythical animal. Two men dance; the one in front carries the barong mask, which is sacred and must never touch the ground. Evil is personified by Rangda—literally "widow," but interpreted as a witch associated with spirits of the dead. Several men armed with keris (daggers) accompany Rangda when she enters. Under her influence, they go into a trance and stab themselves, but are protected from injury by Barong's presence. Barong's eventual victory is taken to affirm his protection of the village. Both barong and rangda masks are kept in the village temple between performances. Though interpreted as good versus evil, the two sides are more equivocal, and Barong's victory is never regarded as conclusive.

Tim Byard-Jones

Further Reading

Yousouf, Ghulam-Sarwar. (1994) Dictionary of Traditional South-East Asian Theatre. Kuala Lumpur: Oxford University Press.

Eiseman, Fred B., Jr. (1990) Bali: Sekala and Niskala. Vol. 1, Essays on Religion, Ritual, and Art. Hong Kong: Periplus Editions.

Zoete, B. van, and Walter Spies. (1973) Dance and Drama in Bali. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Source Citation

Source Citation   

Gale Document Number: GALE|CX3403700264