Reog Tengger Attractions: The History of Tenggerese Mystical Dance

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reog tengger attraction

Indonesia Travel Guide – Mount Bromo is one of Indonesia’s magnificent wonders. Situated in East Java, Mount Bromo is among favorite destinations for domestic and international tourists. Not only does it mesmerizes you with spectacular sunrise and scenic view, Mount Bromo is also home to Tenggerese who preserve their culture and old tradition. Reog Tengger attractions become a part of their culture that should not be missed.

Reog Tengger has different characteristics with Reog Ponorogo. Though both of them depict the character of magical lion creature known as Singa Barong, Reog Tengger is different in several ways. The Reog dance represents the old tradition of Tenggerese as well as their way of life. Keep scrolling to find more information about the history and performance of Reog Tengger!

The History of Reog Tengger Attractions

Reog actually originates in Ponorogo and Reog Ponorogo has been well known around the globe. Characterized by Singa Barong, this art performance becomes one of the most recognized in the world. Reog itself is a traditional dance from East Java consisting of many elements including physical strength, choreography, mystic, and costumes and decorations.

Reog Tengger and Reog Ponorogo generally share the same story of origin. Reog dance depicts the story of King of Ponorogo named Klono Sewandono who took a journey to Kediri. He wanted to seek Princess Songgo Langit’s hand.

On this journey, the king and his entourage were attacked by a ferocious monster known as Singa Barong. The character of Singa Barong was described as a mythical lion with peacock feathers. A fierce battle between the group of the king and Singa Barong happened. This battle involved not only physical fight but also supernatural prowess.

Reog dance showcases the vicious character of Singa Barong. The performance involves a huge mask that spans over 2.5 meters including the feathers and decorations. Carrying such a heavy and large object, the dancer must be well-trained.

Reog Tengger Performance

Singa Barong becomes the main character of this performance. Singa Barong, the mythical lion character is represented in a giant mask that resembles lion’s head with long peacock feathers on it. This mask is extremely heavy as it can reach up to 40 kg. Surprisingly, the dancer must carry the mask by his teeth. For this reason, the dancer should have supernatural strength and abilities.

To make the attraction more exciting, Singa Barong often carry a boy or a girl on its head. It means the dancer must be able to carry a weight over 100 kg only by the force of his teeth. It surely needs strong shoulder, neck, and jaw muscles.

A typical Reog performance consists of three sets of dance, in which each dance is performed by a group of people. Each set portrays a different storyline that captivate the spectators. The sets of dance include:

  1. Opening dance

The first is referred to as an opening dance that is performed by warok, male dancers in black costumes that symbolize rough men. The dancers wear intimidating moustache and masculine attributes to accentuate their character.

  1. Jarang Kepang dance

The second section of Reog performance is Jaran Kepang dance. This attraction is performed by Jatil, a handsome young boy who wears a fancy costume. Previously, this set was performed by a gemblak. Nowadays, female dancers are sometimes included in this section.

  1. Main attraction

The last section is the main attraction performed jointly by all Reog dancers. The heavy Singa Barong mask is carried by warok performer who dances on the center of the stage. The other performers dance around the vicious Singa Braong. To accentuate the strength of Singa Barong dancer, Jatil dancer sometimes climbs and rides the mask.

During the performance of Reog Tengger, a shaman is included to prepare offerings. The purpose is to bless and bring the dancer into a trance state. The shaman also invites the spirits to join the performance. The offerings typically used in this attraction include gedang ayu, rokok kinangan (hand-roll cigarette), kembang telon (a combination of three flowers), traditional Javanese puree, rice balls, and many others.

Reog Tengger Music Instruments

Reog Tengger attractions are accompanied by traditional music from gamelan orchestra consisting of gong, gendang, saron, angklung, kenong, and other instruments. Unlike Reog Ponorogo that employs only traditional music instruments, Reog Tengger is far more modern. Reog Tengger uses modern instruments such as bass and electric guitar. This innovation distinguishes Reog Tengger and Reog Ponorogo.

Furthermore, Reog Tengger performance is sometimes accompanied by modern songs of ‘campur sari’ which is famous among Tenggerese. Reog Tengger also involves a trance ritual that accentuates more mystical elements from this art performance. This element is also found in Reog Ponorogo aside from relying on physical strength to move the Singa Barong character.

When and Where to Watch Reog Tengger Performance?

A Reog dance is not typically performed to complement a certain ritual or a ceremony. Reog Tengger show is a mere art performance that portrays the local wisdom and old tradition of the local people by depicting the story of Klono Sewandono. Though it involves supernatural prowess and spiritual activity, it is hardly related to a certain ritual.

Reog Tengger is commonly held during special events including cultural event or celebration such as Yadnya Kasada. A Reog dance is included into the sequence of events to attract visitors and tourists from around the globe to visit Bromo.

Where to watch Reog Tengger? There is no specific place that presents Reog Tengger dance in a constant schedule. As Reog Tengger is held to complement yearly events or traditional celebrations, it can be performed almost anywhere in Bromo. If you want to watch the show, make sure to find information about Bromo events which involve Reog Tengger performance.

To conclude, Reog Tengger attractions represent the local wisdom and old tradition upheld by Tenggerese. Though it shares many things with Reog Ponorogo ranging from history and sets of dance, Tengger sub-ethnic group has made innovations which result in a distinct Reog Tengger performance. To witness the excitement of Reog Tengger, choose the right schedule and arrange a trip to Bromo.

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