"In a Revolution"

It’s The Kuda Lumping, Kuda Lumping, Kuda Lumping is Jumping

In Anthropology, Medical Sciences, Psychology, Social Problems on January 27, 2009 at 2:49 pm

187784_kuda13oIn this time I will talk about a famous part of Indonesian culture, namely Kuda Lumping. I will discuss the Kuda Lumping from many points of view, not only from the perspective of culture, but also from the medical, psychology, and social perspective.


Kuda Lumping is a Javanese’s art. Later, this cultural tradition has spread more into the Indonesian mainstream since it was claimed by Johor society in Malaysia as part of their culture, in addition to Reog Ponorogo art.

Grounded in history, the Kuda Lumping was born to symbolize that the society had the power to face the enemy or fight the power of royal armies. Besides that, it also acted as a form of merry entertainment.

The Kuda Lumping is a form of dance that uses ‘horses’ made from bamboo: it is accompanied by the gamelan orchestra, which uses instruments such as: the gong, kenong, kendang, and slompret. The Kuda Lumping amazes the audience with the dancing Kuda Lumping riders. The traditional Kuda Lumping dancers are performed by girls, wearing the uniform of the royal men-at-arms. Nowadays, the Kuda Lumping actors are male. The sounds of a big whiplash that whip these dancers, symbolizes the input of mystical powers that can take control of the players’ consciousness. By riding the horses – with bells on their ankles – the actors straddle the horses, jump up, and roll on the ground. Besides jumping up, the Kuda Lumping dancers perform other stunts, such as eating the shards of the lamp bulbs, and stripping the coconut fiber by the. They eat the shards of the lamp balls eagerly. They don’t feel pain, and there’s no blood when they eat the glass shards.

As the sound of the whip cracks over the Kuda Lumping players, the players grow more frenzied. Every lash that the rattan lash strikes their body increases the frantic behavior of the actors. The Kuda Lumping dancers will feel stronger, more powerful, and more invulnerable. Commonly, in that condition, they grow wild and frenzied enough to attempt the impossible.

The Kuda Lumping players are also fire breathers. The flame is fed by gasoline kept in their mouth which is then spewed out on a heated element: a little piece of iron. The end of the iron is made specifically so that that the fire doesn’t go out as the gasoline is sprayed from the mouth of the entertainer. The Kuda Lumping players also use colours to communicate specific meanings in their dance. The dominant colours for this attraction are red, white, and black. Red signifies a brave and spirit. The white is for the purity of heart and mind that can reflect five senses, so it can be a guide for the black.

(What does black symbolize?)

As an attraction full of mysticism and danger, the Kuda Lumping dance is led by a supernatural leader, perhaps a shaman or a witch doctor. This leader is someone who has a lot of supernatural knowledge and the ability to bring the dancers to a sober, conscious state. He also has the responsibility for the attraction and heals their painful wounds after the performance. However, if seen from the psychological view, the players are known as a medium. These peoples are just a vector for the power of another spirit. Related to the medium is the trance condition, where a person is dissociated from reality, is no longer aware of his surroundings, and acts in an uncontrolled manner.

However, the actor needs to be aware that the sharp things that are swallowed can rupture the GI (Gastrointestinal) tract, and perforate (injure) the abdomen. The intestine is the most commonly injury organ because the limited space of the intestines makes it susceptible to being sliced and punctured by the swallowed shards of glass. If the perforated is on the upper side, for example in gastric area, serious peritonitis symptoms will quickly be manifested. If it occurs on the lower GI tract, like the colon, there are no immediate symptoms because the microorganisms need the time to proliferate. However, after 24 hours occurs, acute symptoms become obvious due to abdomen because of the stimulation of the peritoneum. (The Peritoneum is the membrane that lines the abdomen and pelvic cavities.)

From colonial times until today, Indonesia’s local cultures are continually threatened by the greater wealth and prestige of alien cultures. So, the youth of today must continually reevaluate their place and society, and work hard to retain what is valuable in their native cultures, less everything distinctively Indonesian is swamped by the dominant Western/Global culture. The government and society must rediscover their own native arts, which are hardly ever heard on national media. So, these cultures can be developed and deepened to root Indonesians firmly in their native soil.

Written by: Catherine Maname Uli

Edited by : Mr. Alvin, teacher of EF Pluit

The Refferences :

  1. KUDA LUMPING: Kesenian Tradisional Indonesia Bernuansa Magis. Available from the URL: http://www.explore-indo.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=198:kuda-lumping-kesenian-tradisional-indonesia-bernuansa-magis&catid=38:budaya&Itemid=134
  2. Medium. Available from the URL: http://smartpsikologi.blogspot.com/2007/11/medium.html
  3. Kapita Selekta Kedokteran Jilid 2. 2000. Jakarta: Media Aesculapius.

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