Pangkalan Bun in Central Kalimantan is very far from anywhere, and holds an interesting Babukung Festival every year. The Babukung Mask Festival 2019 is scheduled to be held on July 17, 2019.

The Ritual

Bukung is a person wearing a mask, called luha in Dayak Tomun language, worn during the Tiwah Ceremony. This ritual is a symbol of happiness and togetherness where bukung dancers will dance with distinctive rhythms and sounds that are made using bamboo sticks as a means to entertain grieving families. Promoting this cultural wealth, the Babukung Festival is now held annually in Nanga Bulik, the capital of Lamandau Regency. Hundreds of supporters wearing various shapes and colors will be paraded during this cultural festival.

The History

Babukung Mask Festival has been going on for six years now, and attracts a crowd of 6,000 for three festival days. There are eight districts in Lamandau and each year districts enter for lotteries. Depending on the luck of the draw, each community is given a special mask. They then had to work carving out masks, making costumes and learning to dance to perform at the festival. There are 15 categories of masks used: birds, dragons, crocodiles, bats, horn bills, peacocks, dogs, demons, butterflies, and white masks called Sadap, which represent Dutch people with long noses.

Luha Mask, for example, is an integral part of the Dayak Tomun funeral. The mask itself is carved by expert craftsmen from pulai, tropical wood. Only natural dyes obtained from materials found in the forest are used to decorate the mask. Red color from kesumba fruit, and black from charcoal. Pure white color from lime.

This mask is related to Dayak animistic beliefs and some masks have magical powers. Some are manifestations of ancestral spirits, some allow communication with ancestors, and some counteract evil spirits from home, someone or plants. Ceremonial masks have special functions, such as capturing souls at funerals.

The Events

During the three days of the festival you will see some beautiful traditional dances. What you will see on display at the festival is a true celebration of who they are as Dayaks.

Free english translation from pedoman wisata