Warrior Dance: A Rendezvous of Heroism and Devotion

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Illustration of warrior dance
Illustration of warrior dance

A wonderful blend of Indian mythology, Old Javanese and Balinese tradition has emptied into a Balinese Hindu tradition. It is expressed in various forms of artistic creativities like dance, painting, sculpture and others. These expressions have enriched the cultural life of Balinese people and this promoted brotherhood with their own fellows around the globe. Their creativity is inseparable from the taksu (divine vibration) that drives their spirit to work ad infinitum.

Over the years, the Balinese endeavor to conserve their arts with the spirit of devotion. One of the ways is by creating a dance that can represent their enthusiasm for the art itself and the Creator. This dance is better known as baris or warrior dance. Interestingly, it has several variants like the Baris Bedil, Baris Cina, Baris Tamiang, Baris Pendet, Baris Dadap and so forth. By and large, these dances are presented on rituals like temple anniversary or piodalan where devotees can express their aesthetic sense to accompany their devotion to God. On this occasion, they ordinarily expect no payment for the show. It utterly constitutes a devotional service or ngaturang ayah.

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Estimated, the word baris is derived from bebarisan (Wiasti, 1990) that connotes a marching or drilling. It then represents the warrior as normally danced by more than four dancers. Besides, this dance also indicates the maturity of men showing by the competence of using weapons as the life during the kingdom era in earlier period. Additionally, these dances reflect the heroism implanted to struggle for their country. It is said that a Sundanese psalmody carries some quatrains of historical poems found in 1550 in East Java mentioned that there were seven kinds of warrior dance presented on the cremation ceremony in Majapahit Kingdom after the Bubat war. Meanwhile, up to these days in similar cremation ceremony, the Balinese people ordinarily present the Baris Dadap dance.

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