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The Origin of Legong  

by on Tuesday, 8 May 20072 Comments | 4,098 views

The classical legong is first mentioned in the lontar (palm leave manuscript), which deals with King Dewa Agung Jambe from Gel-Gel. This King has three sons, the first was named Sri Aji Wirya Sirikan, who lived in the palace at Klungkung; the second son was Sri Aji Madya Wirya, who lived in the palace of Sukawati in the House of Grogak. The third son Sri Urujawirya lived at Gel-Gel.

The lontar tells further that Sri Aji Madya Wirya had three sons. The first was Cokorda Jambe, who lived in the Palace at Guang near Sukawati, the second was Cokorda Made Karna and the third son, who lived at Sukawati, was called Cokorda Gde Agung.

Legong Keraton dance on The 28th Annual Bali Arts Festival 2006

And the legend said that Cokorda Made Karna went to Ketewel, a small village south of Sukawati near the coast, and in Yoganagung temple he practiced yoga. After a month spent in this way, he fell asleep one day and dreamt that he entered Indrabuana, the heaven of Indra. There he saw two beautiful nymphs, resembling mas sinangling (golden puppets), and wearing candirebah (falling temple) headdress, dancing like widyadaris (angels). When Cokorda Made Karna awoke from his dream, he was so impressed, that he called the pemanku (temple priest) of Yoganagung temple and told him about the dream.

The classical Legong Keraton Kuntul dance on The 28th Annual Bali Arts Festival 2006

Cokorda Made Karna wanted to make such dance, and so he gathered the people of the village of Ketewel and created a performance the same as the dance in his dream. However, apparently he could not find any girl beautiful enough to take the part of two nymphs. Therefore, he created two beautiful female masks for the dancers to wear. The music used was the Semara Pegulingan (god of love’s music). This dance became known as the Sanghyang Legong and it has been performed as a ritual dance ever since.

The classical Legong Keraton Kuntul dance on The 28th Annual Bali Arts Festival 2006

Later on, I Gusti Ngurah Jelantik from Blahbatuh working together with Wayan Batubulan, was responsible for creation of yet another Legong dance. Instead of using masked girls he used very handsome boys to dance the Legong. And no mask were used in this dance. I Gusti Ngurah Jelantik’s Legong became famous throughout Bali and was known as Sanghyang Nandir.

The classical Legong Keraton Kuntul dance on The 28th Annual Bali Arts Festival 2006

On seeing the Sanghyang Nandir from Blahbatuh, the king of Gianyar I Dewa Manggis liked this dance very much, and wanted to make a new Legong. From all over Gianyar he gathered the best dance-masters, such as I Sabda, I Goya, I Gusti Putu Samprung, I Wayan Batubulan, Bambang Dewaja, I Dewa Gede Rai Perid and choreographers, dancers and gamelan players. From Singakerta came I Dewa Putu Poletan and well-known gamelan player I Dewa Ketut Blancing to assist the king to create a new Legong in Gianyar. This happened in 1802 A.D. at the time when the king still had much power and wealth.

The classical Legong Keraton Kuntul dance on The 28th Annual Bali Arts Festival 2006

I Dewa Gede Rai Perid asked the king for permission to create a Legong in which the dancers were girls and wore no mask. The version of legong with beautiful girls as dancers became very famous. Perid used the Panji story from the “Pengipuk- Lasem” and the was called Legong Lasem, which is now also known as Legong Kraton. The word Legong means a heavenly dance by divine nymphs and kraton means palace. It is traditionally danced by very young girls and formerly was only performed in the palaces. At the time this dance was created, there was not a third dancer, the condong. This character was introduced into the Legong much later.

The classical Legong Keraton Kuntul dance on The 28th Annual Bali Arts Festival 2006

It was Perid version of the Legong that spread out over Bali. First of all to Saba, where it was taken up by I Gusti Lanang Bagus, and recreated in this village. From Saba, the Legong spread to Keramas, a village south of Gianyar in 1927, and Bedahulu, also in Gianyar Regency. It was in Keramas, that the character of condong, the attendant of the princess, first appeared in the Legong repertoire. And also from Keramas and Bedahulu, the Legong spread to Peliatan, the place where the Legong began to captivate the world.

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