Mask dance, Cirebon art which is increasingly rare


The mask dance is a traditional Cirebon dance. This dance has a main characteristic, namely the dancer wears a mask when dancing. On each mask worn by each dancer has a different character and adds to the uniqueness of this cultural heritage.

Dalang is the name for every dancer. This is because each dancer in the mask dance plays a different character. This traditional dance can be performed by one dancer or in groups.

History of Mask Dance

The mask dance has existed since the 10th century AD, then developed until 16 AD during the reign of Prabu Panji Dewa or King Amiluhur. Prabu Panji Dewa is the King of Jenggala in East Java.

Over time, mask dances spread to several areas in West Java, one of which is Cirebon. When the mask dance entered Cirebon, the dance then mingled with local arts, giving birth to a distinctive dance.

Mask dance has certain meanings, symbols and philosophies, such as leadership, love and wisdom. These things will be conveyed to the audience during the performance, so that the dance can be understood and can learn lessons from this dance.

Based on the story circulating in the community, Sunan Kalijaga and Sunan Gunung Jati have used mask dance as a means of preaching in spreading Islam. Besides that, it is also as entertainment in the palace environment.

Meaning and Philosophy

Initially, the mask dance was only performed in the palace environment. However, over time, this dance was performed as a means of entertainment.

This traditional dance is also used as a medium for the spread of Islam. Therefore, this dance is packaged into a show that has a philosophical content and is more characteristic. This packaging is an illustration of piety in religion and as an example of human behavior. The following are forms of human behavior, namely:

  • Makrifat (Insan Kamil), namely the highest level of humans in religion and in accordance with religious law.
  • The essence, which is a picture of a knowledgeable human, so that he understands the rights of a slave and the creator.
  • Tarekat, which is a picture of humans who practice religion in their daily behavior.
  • Sharia, which is a description of humans who have known Islamic teachings.

The mask dance has certain messages in it. Some of them are symbolic, which requires understanding to translate them into aspects of life. This dance is considered to have the values ​​of personality, education, love, anger and the depiction of human life from birth to adulthood.

Mask Dance Performance

In the past, mask dances were held in a semi-circular open space. Usually the performance is carried out in the yard of the house with a torch for lighting.

However, along with the times and technology, this dance performance is now performed in buildings with decorative lights as lights. The mask dance performance has three specific objectives, namely:

Communal Performance

In communal performances, the entire community can participate in it. Usually, a communal mask dance performance is held more than one night. For example, village celebrations, grave or ngunjung pilgrimages, and youth events or ngarotkasinom.

Individual Performance

This performance is made for individuals or individuals. Usually held for entertainment for circumcision, weddings, khaulan and celebration when a vow is fulfilled. Generally, this show is made on the home page.

Babarengan Show

Babarengan performance is a mask dance performance around the village. This performance is carried out when a village is harvesting or celebrating a certain memorial. However, if it is carried out before harvesting, the performance is also carried out when the village experiences desertification or drought.

Mask Dance Equipment

Equipment for mask dance performances, of course, masks. In addition, there are several other items, such as a dancer’s costume with long sleeves and a tie with a ukon pin. Ukon is the currency of ancient times. Dancers also use belts equipped with badongs, bracelets, keris and batik cloth.

Well, that’s a glimpse of mask dance. This traditional dance is rarely performed nowadays. That’s why this dance is rare. Hope this information is useful for you.


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