Exploring the Elegance of Barong Bali: A Cultural Gem

October 4, 2023

When one thinks of Bali, images of pristine beaches, lush jungles, and vibrant nightlife often come to mind. However, this Indonesian paradise has much more to offer than just natural beauty and parties. Bali is a treasure trove of culture and tradition, and one of its most iconic symbols is the Barong Bali. In this blog, we will delve deep into the world of Barong Bali, exploring its history, significance, and the mesmerizing performances that make it an integral part of Balinese culture.

The Essence of Barong Bali

Barong Bali, often simply referred to as Barong, is a mythical creature in Balinese folklore. It represents the good spirit and is believed to protect the island and its people from evil forces. The Barong is characterized by its elaborate and colourful costume, featuring a lion-like head and a long, flowing mane. The dance associated with the Barong is known as the Barong Dance and is a prominent feature of Balinese rituals and ceremonies.

Barong Bali History and Their Origins

The origins of the Barong Bali can be traced back to ancient Balinese mythology and Hindu-Buddhist beliefs. It is said to be the reincarnation of a benevolent king and is associated with the lion, which symbolizes strength and courage in Balinese culture. The dance itself is believed to have been introduced to Bali during the Majapahit Empire in the 14th century.

The Barong Dance

The Barong Dance is a captivating performance that tells the eternal struggle between good and evil. In the dance, the Barong, representing good, battles against the Rangda, a demon queen representing evil. The dance is not only a form of entertainment but also a religious ritual meant to protect the community from malevolent spirits.

The Barong Dance is characterized by intricate choreography and vibrant costumes. The performers wear ornate masks and costumes that reflect the mythical creatures they portray. The dance is accompanied by traditional gamelan music, creating a mesmerizing and immersive experience for the audience.

Barong Bali: Types of Barong Dance

  • Barong Ket

The most famous and often seen Balinese Barong dance is the Barong Ket or Keket Barong dance. In this dance performance, the mask used is a Barong with a shape that resembles a lion combined with a cow, tiger, and dragon.

The Barong Ket in this Barong dance has a very long size. Its height can reach 1.5 to 2 meters with a length of between 3.5 to 4 meters. In the head part, the dominant colour of red is very striking. This Barong is usually played by 2 people, each in the front and back parts, also called “juru bapang.”

barong bali tradition

  • Barong Bangkal

The next Balinese Barong dance is the Barong Bangkal. This Barong has the distinctive feature of being predominantly black and resembling a wild boar in appearance. Furthermore, this Barong is characterized by a snout, fangs, and extremely thick hair. The Barong Bangkal is smaller in size compared to the Barong Ket. This Barong dance is usually not performed on a stage. Instead, it is typically performed by moving around from house to house or on the streets. You will encounter this tradition during the celebrations of Galungan and Kuningan.

  • Barong Gajah

The Elephant Barong dance uses a Barong whose appearance closely resembles an elephant. You can see this resemblance in its trunk. However, this Barong not only has tusks but also protruding fangs. The colour of this Barong is gray, matching the skin of an elephant. However, compared to other Balinese Barong dances, the Elephant Barong is a rare type of Barong dance.

  • Barong Landung

When watching a Barong Landung performance, you will notice a resemblance to the “ondel-ondel” from Betawi. Moreover, this Barong dance consists of a pair of Barongs, one male and one female. Both of them are also twice the height of a human.

The Barong Landung dance tells the story of the love between King Jaya Pangus and his wife from China named Kang Cing Wei. Their love story ends tragically as they were cursed by the Goddess Danu. The curse was placed upon them because Jaya Pangus lied by claiming to be a virgin during his travels when he asked for offspring.

  • Barong Macan

From its appearance, the Tiger Barong dance may seem quite similar to the Ket Barong. The difference is that the Tiger Barong is created entirely based on the appearance of a tiger, whereas the Ket Barong is a combination of various animal features.

The performance of this Balinese Tiger Barong dance is similar to the Barong Bangkal, as it is performed by moving around the village. Additionally, the Tiger Barong dance is also showcased during specific sacred ceremonies.


Barong Bali is more than just a mythical creature; it is a symbol of the rich cultural heritage of Bali. The Barong Dance, with its vibrant costumes, intricate choreography, and deep spiritual significance, offers a window into the soul of the island. It reminds us that Bali’s beauty is not just skin deep; it is rooted in centuries of tradition, belief, and artistry. So, the next time you visit Bali, make sure to witness the enchanting Barong Dance and immerse yourself in the island’s captivating culture.

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