Blora has stories. Cerita Dari Blora, which will be held in 12–15 September 2018, will charm the audience with stories from Blora’s oral literature and art tradition. Here are some of the featured arts:
Kentrung is a form of oral literature in Blora as well as other regions (Tuban, Kediri). In Blora, Kentrung performers can be found in Sendang Gayam Village, Banjarejo District. Kentrung is not just fiction for amusement; it contains pasemon, allegories for human life. It adds richness of meaning to special events such as circumcision, wedding ceremonies, birth celebrations, ruwatan (ritual cleansing), and sedekah bumi (offering ceremony).
Kentrung is unique in its way of storytelling accompanied by drums, terbang (tambourine), and kentung (wooden drum). The performer (dalang/panjak) does not use a specific decoration or costume to perform.
Jedhoran is another Blora art form, which is the performance Islamic music with traditional instruments such as tambourines and drums. Jedhoran features barzanji poems chanted by santri (Muslim students) wearing their typical clothes: the sarong and peci cap. It requires percussion and Arabic chanting skills. There are only three jedhoran groups active in Blora, one of which is the al-Mujahidin of Gedongsari Village, Banjarejo District. Most jedhoran performers are now 40 years old or more. Jedhoran is performed in village events, circumcisions, wedding ceremonies, and selapanan (celebrating newborns).
Tayub is a form of popular traditional Javanese dance, featuring singing female dancers. The tayub survives as a social and ritual event, as well as entertainment and show, providing visual and kinetic entertainment as the audience is invited to dance along. Tayub performers number 10-20 people, which include the joged (female dancers), pengarih (stewards), pengibing (dancing audience), pangguyub, and pengrawit (musicians). There are two forms of tayub in Blora: kulonan (“western”, around Todanan District), and wetanan (around Jepon and Jiken Districts). The wetanan is more erotic and sensual as it emphasizes movements of the hips and chest with flirty glances.
Wayang kerucil puppets can be classified as a classic art. Blora’s wayang kerucil is small and made from wood. Wayang kerucil had been developed before the colonial period, depicting Amir Hamzah and Menak stories. It is accompanied by laras pelog and srepeg krucilan music: hand-thumped instruments in harmony with drums, alternating between fast and slow tempo.
Barongan can also be found in Blora, like in many other regions. Initially, barongan is a ritual performed in ceremonies such as lamporan, ruwatan, and wong sukerto. During the Islamic period barongan is used to proselytize Islam. Barongan is infused with anti-Dutch propaganda during colonial times. An example is the verse “Tholek thogling barongan mata beling... ndas buthak ditempiling” which is an insult for bald-headed Dutch soldiers (ndas buthak ditempiling = “smack the bald-headed”). After Indonesian independence, barongan is performed in independence celebrations. Barongan still enjoys popular patronage and seems to be keeping up with the times, altering its function to meet contemporary needs.
The Blora Barongan uses a giant tiger mask called the singobarong wielded by two pembarong dancers. The front pembarong acts as the head and the back pembarong becomes the tail end. Barongan appears in parades and dramas called reog barongan. In Blora and other places in Central Java and Yogyakarta, barongan appears in jathilan and reog plays depicting Panji Stories. Blora natives believe that the barongan is the incarnation of a local hero, Gembong Amijoyo, thereby keeping the barongan alive in Bloran legend.