Makepung Dance

The Dances of Bali | Written By, Kartika D. Suardana |

In Jembrana Regency, especially in the coastal areas, live many immigrants from Banyuwangi, Madura Island and Sulawesi. The Madurese mostly inhabit the west coast of Bali where the current from Madura Strait passes by, carrying their astonishing fishing boats to the Indian Ocean. The Madurese brought their heritage with them and one of the traditions that has been passed down from generation to generation, is the famous Buffalo race tradition. In Bali, the race – called “Makepung” – varies slightly from a traditional race in Madura.

Text & Photo by Kartika D. Suardana

In Jembrana Regency, especially in the coastal areas, live many immigrants from Banyuwangi, Madura Island and Sulawesi. The Madurese mostly inhabit the west coast of Bali where the current from Madura Strait passes by, carrying their astonishing fishing boats to the Indian Ocean. The Madurese brought their heritage with them and one of the traditions that has been passed down from generation to generation, is the famous Buffalo race tradition. In Bali, the race – called “Makepung” – varies slightly from a traditional race in Madura.

Madurese and Balinese cultures have blended to create a unique Makepung dance, which is performed by a group of 5 or more female dancers and 5 or more male dancers. The female dancers symbolize the buffalos, while the male ones perform masculine routines to imitate the shepherds and the buffalo riders.

Unlike most of Bali’s dances, the performers of Makepung wear rather simple costumes. Sparkling yellow tops, tight black trousers and headdresses that resemble buffalo ears make up the costume of a female Makepung dancer. However, some authentic Balinese fabrics and ornaments are also worn to brighten up the overall look of the dancers. Meanwhile the men, who act as the riders, wear bright orange knee length pants covered with authentic Bali prada fabric, matched with orange sleeveless tops. Highlighting their masculine roles, each male dancer holds a whip throughout the whole performance.

The dance itself narrates the whole process of Makepung. First of all, playful and dynamic routines mimic the buffalo’s activity in the fields, frolicking with others and getting covered in mud. Out of nowhere, a group of shepherds arrive in the field and herd the buffalo into a neat line before using their authoritative powers to tame the buffalos so that they can be safely ridden. In the finale, the shepherds ride the buffalos in the race to secure a well deserved victory.!

Watch a Makepung dance performance in Bentuyung Village in Ubud every Friday and Sunday at 7pm.

About Author :

Kartika D. Suardana

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