In a certain place in Malioboro or in Alun-alun Lor (Palace North Square), Yogyakarta or infront of Sriwedari, Solo or Somewhere in Simpang Lima - Semarang, a loud of rhythmical gamelan music is heard and then a crowd gathering is seen in the sidewalks or in the square. Those people are watching a Jatilan dance, played by several dancers on a flat bamboo horses, accompanied by a loud sound of gamelan music interrupted by the sound of whips. The players could be men or women.
Jatilan is another kind of trance dance which can be seen in many places in Java, in the towns as well as in the villages. The other name for jatilan is Jaran Kepang or Jaran Dor (jaran is horse in Javanese; dor is the sound of a whip).
The most eye-cathing and dramatic is the dancer on a flat bamboo horse who becomes entranced. He moves wildly, rolling himself on the ground several times, whipped many times by the dukun - the leader of the jatilan group, the whole thing is quite demonic.
The most breath-taking action by the trance dancers is when he is eating raw paddy rice and electric bulbs or other materials of glasses. Sometimes he eats also a bowl of hot chili pepper. It is something beyond logic. The performance usually takes about thirty minutes time.
The most important man in jatilan is the dukun, the leader who possesses Supernatural power. He must have the ability to control the trance dancer, when the dancers should begin, and at the end has to order him to stop and put him back conscious again.
After a short break, the jatilan group should continue its way to play in another place. In a day the group could play several times - five or six times per day.
(Suryo S. Negoro)
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