Photo By: kompas.com/Slamet Priyatin

Kuda (horse) Lumping which is also called jaran kepang or jathilan is a traditional Javanese dance originating from Ponorogo.

The Kuda Lumping dance is performed using a horse made of woven bamboo and cut to resemble a horse and decorated with artificial hair made of plastic rope.

The Kuda Lumping dance usually only shows scenes of hussars. However, several performances of Kuda Lumping also present the attraction of trance, magical powers, and immunity.

The Kuda Lumping dance players will show the attraction of eating glass accompanied by a whip on their body.

The Origin 

The origin of the Kuda Lumping is not known with certainty. However, many believe that Kuda Lumping came from the support of the common people for Prince Diponegoro's cavalry against the Dutch.

In another version, it is also mentioned that Kuda Lumping describes the story of the struggle of Raden Patah who was assisted by Sunan Kalijaga against the Dutch.

It is found again in another version which states that the Kuda Lumping dance tells about the war exercises of the Mataram troops led by Sultan Hamengkubuwono I, the King of Mataram, to face the Dutch troops.

Of the three versions, it cannot be said with certainty which story is the origin of this Lumping Horse.However, it is estimated that the Kuda Lumping dance has existed since the ancient kingdom or pre-Hindu period because it is still colored with animistic beliefs.

Identical with Possession

The art of Kuda Lumping is popular among the people of East Java, such as Ponorogo, Blitar, Malang, Tulung Agung, and surrounding areas.

Usually, the Kuda Lumping dance is performed on certain occasions such as welcoming guests of honor and thanksgiving. However, over time, Kuda Lumping dance was also associated with magical things.

This is because before the Kuda Lumping dance is performed, there will be two handlers as spiritual leaders who are tasked with keeping the weather from raining.

The handler in Kuda Lumping is called Warok. They will wear black clothes with red stripes and thick mustaches.

Then, the other handler will be in charge of protecting the environment from supernatural disturbances, recovering dancers who are in a trance, and controlling the spirits that possess the players.

It is said that the trance experienced by the Kuda Lumping players was intentional because they worked with the genie. Its purpose is to be entertainment or spectacle.

The possessed Kuda Lumping player will start the attraction by eating glass, eating live coals, walking on broken glass and burning coals, being slashed by a knife, and other attractions. Miraculously, these possessed Lumping Horse players would not feel any pain or hurt.

The Show

Photo By: Creative Common Atribution

The Kuda Lumping dance presents four dance fragments, namely the Buto Lawas dance twice, the Senterewe dance, and the Begon Putri dance.

The Buto Lawas dance will usually be danced by only men consisting of four to six dancers. Some dancers will ride woven bamboo horses and dance while following the music.

It is at this time that the Buto Lawas dancers will begin to be possessed. In an unconscious state, they will continue to dance while performing unusual attractions, eating glass, eating live coals, and so on.

To restore their consciousness, the warok will provide an antidote so that the audience's consciousness will recover. In the next fragment, male and female dancers will join in performing the Senterewe dance.

In the next fragment, the male and female dancers will join together to perform the Senterewe dance.

Then, in the last fragment, six women will perform the Begon Putri dance, which is the closing dance of the entire Kuda Lumping dance series.

The Kuda Lumping Dance is a symbol of strength, bravery, perseverance, and other military aspects in war.

The horse is a symbol of physical strength. This can be seen from the rhythmic, dynamic, and aggressive movements, through the strokes of woven bamboo like a horse in the middle of a battle.

Kinds of Kuda Lumping

The various types of Kuda Lumping are as follows:

  • Jathil Reog, Ponorogo
  • Jathil Obyok, Ponorogo
  • Jaranan Thek, Ponorogo
  • Jaranan Sentherewe, Ponorogo and Tulungagung
  • Jaranan Kediri, Kediri
  • Jaranan Turonggo Yakso, Trenggalek
  • Jaranan Buto, Banyuwangi
  • Jaranan Dor, Jombang and Malang
  • Jaranan Sang Hyang, Bali Jathilan Diponegoro, Yogyakarta and Central Java
  • Jathilan Hamengkubuwono, Yogyakarta and Central Java
  • Jaran Kencak, Lumajang
  • Jaran Jenggo, Lamongan and Gresik