Jathilan is a traditional art which is very popular for Javanese. It is the altertnative entertainment, especially for they whom live far away from urban areas. There is no exact data about the origin of this art, but almost in every area in Java has a local dance that is almost similar despite different names, like Jaranan, Jaran Kepang, Kuda Lumping or Reyog. Basically, this dance using the “kuda kepang” or “kuda lumping,” which is the imitation of the horse flattened shape made of bamboo.
The traditional musical instruments which accompany the dance is a simple gamelan, consisting of kendang, bendhe, saron, gender and gongs.Now, there are many groups of Jatilan are accompanied by modern drums and keyboards. The songs are sung usually the praise to the God and the call to do good deeds during life on earth.
The costumes of the dancers are usually in the form of a floating pants, cloth, with tied waistband and buckle. Some of them are wearing headbands, vests and some are shirtless. Their accessories are included the kuda lumping, and sometimes they bring a sword or whip. In its development, not all dancers always bring kuda lumping. Nowadays, they develop new costumes by “crashing” the puppet costume that totally different. Many accessories created but it’s all depends on the financial ability of each group jathilan.
Jathilan is a dynamic dance movement, synchronously, rhythmic and done repeatedly. The jathilan show consists of several rounds. In the early round is usually done by the junior dancers, then in the next round played by the more senior dancers.In each round is performance by a pair of dancers or more. They perform the simultant movements and ended with a duel or battle.
The unique of Jathilan is, each round there is always some trance dancers. It can be one dancer or more. In a state of trance, they are able to do something that does not make sense. They eat flowers or fruits improperly or the more extreme is eating live chickens. In the old days, they used their teeth to peel coconuts and ate the broken glass. But this time, those scenes are very rare.
Besides dancers and musical accompaniment, there is someone who is in charge to awake the trance dancer. This person is assisted by several assistants who keep the trance dancers do not do things that harm the audience and himself.
Jathilan or kuda lumping or jaran kepang or reog or whatever its name is a traditional art that needs to be preserved. It is not a matter of entertainment. More of that, there is a message of life.