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.
In Balinese mythology, the good spirit is identified as Banas Pati Raja. Banas Pati Raja is the fourth “brother” or spirit child that accompanies a child throughout their life, which is a similar concept to Guardians angles. Banas Pati Raja is the spirit which animates Barong. A protector spirit, he is often represented as a Lion. The Barong is often portrayed accompanied by two monkeys. Barong is portrayed as a lion with red head, covered in white thick fur, and wearing gilded jewelry adorned with pieces of mirrors. The shape of lion Barong is somewhat similar to a Pekingese dog.
Barong is probably the most well known dance. It is also another story telling dance, narrating the fight between good and evil. This dance is the classic example of Balinese way of acting out mythology, resulting in myth and history being blended into one reality.
The fight between Barong and Rangda is also the topic of traditional narratives, usually performed in the temple of the dead. The most famous is the story of Calonarang, a widow from Jirah who is furious because she cannot find a suitable husband for her daughter Ratna Manggali. All the eligible young men are scared of her black magic, so she gets revenge by wreaking havoc over the kingdom of Daha. The king, Erlangga, tries to punish her, but all his attempts fail. She kills all the soldiers he sends to destroy her. Then Rangda decides to destroy Daha. She summons all her disciples and in the still of night they go to the Setra Gendrainayu cemetery, to present offerings of dead flesh to Durga, the goddess of death. Durga agrees to the destruction, although she warns the witch not to enter the city of Daha. But the witch does not heed Durga’s advice and the 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 story goes that Rangda, the mother of Erlangga, the King of Bali in the tenth century, was condemned by Erlangga’s father because she practiced black magic. After she became a widow, she summoned all the evil spirits in the jungle, the leaks and the demons, to come after Erlangga. A fight occurred, but she and her black magic troops were too strong that Erlangga had to ask for the help of Barong. Barong came with Erlangga’s soldiers, and fight ensued. Rangda casted a spell that made Erlangga soldiers all wanted to kill themselves, pointing their poisoned keris into their own stomachs and chests. Barong casted a spell that turned their body resistant to the sharp keris. At the end, Barong won, and Rangda ran away.
Somebody can die or get seriously injured in a Barong dance. It is said that if Rangda’s spell is too strong, a weak soldier may not be able to resist it, even with the help of Barong. He may end up hurting himself with his own keris.
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