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  Barong Ket

Barong is a great mythical figure. Almost every banjar (ward association) in South Bali owns at least one of this fabulous creatures, which are regarded as indispensable in the unrelenting war against demons.

The ancestor of the Barong is surely the Chinese Lion Dance, which appeared during the T'ang dynasty (7th to 10th centuries A.D.)

Barongs usually are taken to the regular bi-monthly patrol, especially in Banjar Mukti, Singapadu village. A club of unmarried men is responsible for animating the great mythical figure and taking him around the village to drive off evil spirits.

A pair of dancers animated the Barong, the front man holds the mask in his hands and peeps out over it through the great beast's hair. The eight- foot frame of his body is shaggy with white palm fibers, and a little bell and a mirror hang from the animal's tail.

No music accompanies the magnificent figure as he trots about the ward, stopping now and again to rattle his wooden jaw loudly.

His magical beard, made of human hair, waggles as his jaw clacks at crossroads and village corners, chasing the buta (demons) back into the outer darkness. His followers shout their approval.

Some villagers bring offerings to present to the visiting 'god' while others beg for lucky fibers from the animal's shaggy coat, or for holy water into which the creature's beard has been dipped.

Barong is also called out when an epidemic or other disaster strikes. His territory is the dangerous places of the community : the graveyard, the crossroad, and the specialty paths favored by buta as they go about their troublesome business.

None of the many different kinds of Barong is given quite much prestige and respect as the Barong Ket, honored. The mask of Barong Ket is identical in appearance everywhere it appears and is similar in style to the masks of Wayang Wong.

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