Sisingaan, a disjunctive folk culture of Subang

by - 16.5.16

Sisingaan is art performance from Subang Jawa Barat, also known as Gotong Singa or Singa Depok. It was a popular art performance at Subang area, especially in Pantura (Pantai Utara Jawa / north Jawa Barat) such as Pamanukan, Indramayu and Karawang.

Sisingaan means a fake lion. An artificial lion. In Bahasa Indonesia lion mean singa, the Si word that repeated twice and an word behind indicated fake character or pretend situation in Sundanese language. So, Sisingaan is acculturation words from Bahasa Indonesia and Sundanese language.

It's performing by 4 (or more) men whose carrying the sitting lion doll, they walking around the village followed by their family and neighbourhood, they also will dance following the music rhytm. At some point, the men will stop walking and performing their dance to entertain the viewers.

For Sisingaan, they used Sundanese traditional music, but for Sisingaan followers, they used  dangdut music. So with the costumes, the boy whom ride Sisingaan would wearing Sundanese traditional costumes and the men would wearing uniforms, such a modification design from Sundanese traditional costumes.

Commonly Sisingaan performed to celebrating khitanan, a moslem tradition of remarked boys maturity by circumcition. But, nowadays not only boys whom can ride Sisingaan, an adults can be, even sometimes they (adults) are the boys parents. In some region anniversary events, the leader would be ride Sisingaan to be seen by peoples.

Sisingaan isn't came out by itself or suddenly created, there is a reasons behind his genesis. In 1800s, while Dutch (Holland) and England still being an alliance, Subang is under their authority. They built a planter community named P & T lands, in daily The Dutch managing the politic and The England managing the economic of that company.

Because of the double ownership of P & T Lands, a lot Subang peoples living miserably. Those condition made they suffering and released an unsatisfied athmosphere in Subang. Then, they're created Sisingaan for teasing the colonizer.

The lion itself chosen as a symbol of colonizer, Dutch and England, that's why in every Sisingaan performance at least they performing 2 lions. The boy that ride Sisingaan is a joke of colonizer, representing the rude ambitions of squeeezing a resource that isn't theirs.

At the beginning Sisingaan is created as a disjunctive symbol for teasing the colonizer, but it's growth sooner into a folk culture of Subang. Even now Sisingaan is the main performance at Subang annual events.

As another folk cultures, the tradition has been changed and modified depend on situation. So with it. Nowadays Sisingaan form isn't only about lion, it's has transformed into the other form that people seen in Television.

In North Subang, especially in Pantura area. Sisingaan can be found in abstract, weird and odds versions. It still has a lion head but with tiger stripe body, horse tail and a bird wings, or a dragon head with cow body and dragon tail in missy patterns.

Those transformation can't be separated with the ancient folk culture (another folk culture) that has been appears even before Sisingaan itself. That ancient folk culture has acculturated with Sisingaan in different taste.

No matter how far Sisingaan had been changed, it still be the disjunctive folk culture of Subang that raised by the era.

(picture source :

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