The Pakarena Dance from Makassar

The Pakarena Dance from Makassar

South Sulawesi is a land blessed with fascinating splendors. While nature provides the settings that are glorious, the native men and women present an equally fascinating culture. Among the well preserved cultural traditions of South Sulawesi take shape from The Pakarena Dance Makassar. Originated from the early Sultanate of Gowa in today’s Gowa regency, Pakarena is believed to be derived from the word karena, which means to Play, in the local language. The dancing appears to have been spread widely across the area, so many variations are found based on location. Amongst these are the Pakarena Gantarang, Pakarena Balla Bulo, also Pakarena Bontobangung.

The dancing also differs by the kind of functionality. Among them are the Pakarena Rayong which is strictly performed during ritual ceremonies, and the Pakarena Bone Balla that can be carried out at any time. Pakarena expresses the elegance of the Makassar cultural women symbolizing their politeness, devotion, obedience, and respect towards their spouses. The dance consists of 12 parts that have their very own different meanings although they’re hard to differentiate from untrained eyes because routines seem to be similar. The seated position that initiates and ends the performance, and also the clock smart movement represents the cycle of human life.

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While the ascending and descending movements symbolize the wheel of life, sometimes we’re in the top, while at other times we’re down. In most choreographies, the dancers hold and play the different traditional fan. The dancing has an exceptional principle: dancers shouldn’t open their eyes too broad, and their legs should not be lifted too high. There are no definite rules on the number of actors. However, the Pakarena Balla Bulo is only played with odd numbers of 9, 7, or 5. The dancing is accompanied by exciting music played by a set of percussion Gendang, Kanong kanong, gong, kancing, and pui.

For the performance, dancers wear colorful traditional costumes consisting of the hands Baju Pahang woven, finely woven lipa sabe, complemented with intricate golden accessories of South Sulawesi. No official records are suggesting when was the very first time the dancing appeared. But, it’s known that Pakarena was a formal royal dance throughout the reign of Sultan Hasanudin, the sixteenth Sultan of Gowa. The dancing is believed to have been affected by the mother of the Sultan, I Li’mokantu. Many Makassarese thinks that the Pakarena Dance could have its origin at the legend of the parting between boting langi and the inhabitants of lino.

The legend goes that whenever the boting langi departed to paradise, they educated the individuals on the earth how to survive. These include how to grow crops, farming, and hunting. These lessons are then expressed via the movements of the hands, legs, and body. These later evolved into the choreography of the Pakarena Dance, that the people would play throughout rituals to express their gratitude to God.

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