Archive for November 23, 2007

Reog Ponorogo moved to Malaysia?

Posted in Entertainment, Indonesia, Travelling with tags , , , , , , , , on November 23, 2007 by parvita

After the Rasa Sayange claimed by our beloved neighbour Malaysia, now it is the local East Java dance Reog Ponorogo.  In Malaysia it is called Tari Barongan.  No wonder Ahmad Tobroni, who is a reog artist, was upset.   He said, all the elements from Tari Barongan are taken from reog Ponorogo and there is no way that the Malay culture has the Dadak Merak and the big fan feather attached on top of it (this weighs about 50 kgs).  Nah lho.

Interesting fenomena isn’t it.  Why is Malaysia keep claiming our cuture as theirs?  And they keep using the word “Saudara Serumpun”?.   Logically, Malaysian cultures would be similar to those from Sumatra instead of from East Java.  The Busy Brain was wondering, as listening to the morning news in the car, about batik.  It was trying to recall if there is anything called ‘Batik Padang’ or ‘Batik Tapanuli’.  So far, batik that the Busy Brain memorize are ‘Batik Pekalongan’, ‘Batik Garut’, ‘Batik Yogya’, ‘Batik Solo’.  Therefore, batik is invented by the Javanese or Sundanese ancestors.  If Malaysia was to claim the Tenun Palembang, or Songket Bukittinggi as theirs, it makes more sense because it is closer to their culture. 

Now it is the reog.  Ian Douglas Wilson has made a very good site about the Reog Ponorogo and what is behind the whole culture.

Reog Ponorogo is set at the Hindu period in East Java, tells the story about a king from Ponorogo, who wants to marry the princess of Kediri, Dewi Ragil Kuning.  On his way to Kediri with his troops, he was fought by the Kediri king of Lions from Kediri, Raja Singabarong.  Raja Singabarong’s troops consist of peacocks and lions.  The Ponorogo team, King Kelono and his prime minister Bujanganom, are supported by the waroks (men wearing black in the dance.   Now the word ‘warok’ is related to men from east Java with black magic power, who seems to have license to kill).  The whole dance is a war dance between the Kediri Kingdom against the Ponorogo Kingdom, basically the war between the black magics from both sides.  The dance is pretty mystical and originally the spirits enter the dancers.  These dancers are then in a trance stage when they perform.  When the Busy Brain travelled to the border of Central and East Java, it was lucky to record the dance.  Quite scary, imagining what if the spirit enters my body instead of the dancers body. 

What is the background of the Tari Barongan then?  What is the story behind it (besides copyrighting, that is).   And I wonder what kind of spirit enters the dancers body, what if the spirit dances the Serampang 12 kind of dance, wouldn’t it be funny, a huge peacock and the warok fighting ala’ Melayu?  Silly thought. 

The other funny thing the Busy Brain read in the news is that Malaysians buy the Dadak Merak from Ponorogo.  If Tari Barongan is an original Malaysian culture, why do they have to buy the dancing accessories in Indonesia?  Don’t people make their own costumes for their own performances? 

The other thing that comes with Reog Ponorogo is GemblakGemblaks are boyfriends of the waroks.  So in order to maintain or add the spiritual power, a warok should have a gemblak, because the sperm of a man is believed to be the source of power for the waroks (i.e., they practise homosexuality. I think they still practise this, because warok still exists.  Reminds me of Anwar Ibrahim for some reason).  These sort of beliefs are very typical Javanese, strongly influenced by animism. 

The other funny thing that the Busy Brain heard from the radio was that the Malaysian government said that the song Rasa Sayange is originally from Indonesia.  And this happened after that claim was made.  Luckily, the Reog Ponorogo already has been registered as owned (?patent) by the Kabupaten Ponorogo in 2004, and noticed by the Minister of Law and Human Rights (this should be Yusril Ihza Mahendra, I wonder what he says about this now).

You know what, I would be very afraid if I were Malaysian, knowing they stole from the Ponorogo.  Because whenever I hear the word Ponorogo, the Busy Brain relates to the word ‘black magic’ and ‘warok’.   And when you upset those warok…(like the Madurans upset the Dayak people), all of a sudden you see heads on the trees.  Brrrr… don’t really want to upset a group of people with that sort of skill. 

It is quite a shame that we are living next to an annoying neighbor like Malaysia.  But sometimes we have to make a clear cut, even clearer with a friend to maintain the good relationship.  These cultures did not just pop out, it has the history of our country, the pride of the people in it, lots of heart and souls of our ancestors in creating it.  Indonesia should consider their people’s pride and feelings. 

What is next then?  I wouldn’t want to imagine the waroks in action.