Jumat, 06 Agustus 2010

The Warok

Another version of Reog Ponorogo is told about a legendary battle between Pujangga Anom, a minister from the court of Ponorogo, and Singa Barong, guardian spirit of the forest of Lodoyo. The former had aroused the anger of Singa Barong when he stole 150 tigers from the forest, apparently to be offered as a dowry payment for a princess of Kediri, whom the king of Ponorogo wished to marry.

 At that time The region of Ponorogo was called Wengker, the seat of the kingdom of Bentarangin (now the area of subdistrict Sonoroto) under King Kelana Sewandono. He had a governor, Pujangga Anom (in the Reog dance called Bujangganong). One night Kelana Sewandono dreamed meeting a beautiful princess, Songgolangit. He felt in love with her and ordered his governor to ask the hand of the princess. This proposal was accepted on the condition that the King should present an attraction which was still unknown at that time.

King Kelana Sewandono then decided to kill the powerful King Singo Barong, who was pictured as a king with a tiger’s head bearing a wide-winged peacock. The victorious King Kelana Sewandono then went into procession to the palace of the princess, bearing the defeated Singo Barong. The procession attracted great attention during the trip to the palace.

No matter its origin, the Reog dance is a popular attraction, not only in Ponorogo, but all over Java to be performed on various events, including the field of tourism. The people of Ponorogo have a reputation for being tough, both physically and mentally. The qualities of bravery and daring are fully displayed in a reog performance, where the focus of attention is on a trance dancer supporting a giant mask, often weighing more than 40 kg, between his teeth. The mask is a ferocious, snarling tiger’s head, covered in real tiger skin and crowned with a gigantic three meter fan of peacock feathers.

The success of a performance, including the ability of the principal dancer to bear the weight of the mask, is said to depend upon the magical power of the leader of the dance troupe. Known as warok, these men are believed to possess special talents, gained through years of training. One of the unique features of the reog dance is that the hobby horse (jaran kepang) dancers are invariably young boys dressed as women. Known as gemblak, they accompany the warok, who are forbidden close association with females, in their travelling performances. Contest of Reog dance is presented annually by the local government. Ngebel, a natural lake and batik printing of ponorogo are also worthwhile seeing.

The team of players is completed with riders on horses made of bamboo plaitwork or skin of animal. They symbolize the escorting soldiers of King Kelana Sewandono on his trips. Formerly these horse-riders were played by men called Gemblak. But now they are generally women. The total number of a Reog team is between 20 and 40 members, including the magical heroes (waroks) with open breasts and waist band, symbolizing their magic power.

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