The Baris Tunggal Dance


Baris in its many forms, is a traditional war dance of Bali to dedicate warriors and their weapons during a temple feast. The dancer may bear a kris, spear, bow, or other weapons, depending on the variant performed. Baris literally means line or file, referring to the line of soldiers who served the rajas or rulers of Bali.


It is usually danced by paired groups of men. Dramatic Baris performed by a single dancer evolved from other types of Baris into the role of the solo Baris dancer representing a demi-god and being cast in a heroic mould. Baris Tunggal depicts the feelings of a young warrior prior to battle, glorifying the man-hood of the triumphant Balinese warrior and displaying the sublimity of his commanding presence.



Baris is accompanied by a gamelan gong orchestra. The relation between dancer and orchestra is an intimate one, since the gamelan must be entirely attuned to the changing moods of the dancer’s imperious will.


The dancer tentatively enters the stage between two umbrellas (padjengs), like an apparition crossing over from another dimension. At first, his movements are studied and careful, as if he were seeking out foes in an unfamiliar place. When he reaches the middle of the stage, hesitation gives way to self-assurance. He rises on his toes to his full stature, his body motionless with quivering limbs. Then, he whirls on one leg, his feet patter the ground to the tumult of the gamelan and his face renders the storm of passions of a quick-tempered warrior. Such a spectacular show of style and dance technique has to be seen to be fully appreciated.


Several videos on this type of powerful dance performance can be seen at these links:













Creating the figure


The Baris Tunggal dancer cuts a most splendid figure on stage. The typical Baris costume is worn, consisting of a triangular-shaped white headdress bedecked with white flowers or mother of pearl shells mounted on wires and quivering with every slight movement of the dancer. Two bunches of red flowers fringe this unique headdress. Sometimes, the white headdress may be substituted with gilded and carved leather for a more magnificent effect. Usually the overall white costume is worn, but sometimes a black top is substituted. Black leggings with gold trim are usually worn. He is adorned with a multitude of elegantly coloured stoles, which create a very dramatic effect when he whirls around.


The Baris dancers in production are available under Series A BALI in four different sets, each set comprising four figures as follows: -

SET A2a Baris Djodjor with lance kneeling

SET A2b Baris Presi with a small wavy shield

SET A2c Baris Pendet with food offering

SET A2d Baris Toembaek with lance standing


A unique Baris Tunggal dancer was created by using the Baris Pendet body, with the right hand from a Baris Pendet dancer and the left hand taken from a Legong dancer (SET A1 Balinese Legong and Kebyar Dancers). The head was attached facing to the left to create a dramatic pose. Additonal stoles were made from existing stoles cut in half and attached to the body. Some minor resculpting was done to fit these pieces neatly onto the figure but largely, the aesthetic style of this figure was harmonized to the production figures.



Modified Baris Tunggal dancer in a dramatic pose with additional stoles





Unique Figure painted as a Baris Tunggal Dancer