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Home » Kutai Sultan Palace (Mulawarman Museum) » The Graceful Gong Dance of the Dayak

The Graceful Gong Dance of the Dayak

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If tattoos and Mandau Blades are symbols of the ethnic Dayak ‘s courage and manhood, the indigenous inhabitants of the island of Borneo, and in particular the Dayak Kenyah in East Kalimantan express their gracefulness through the beautiful art of the Gong Dance.


This special dance is usually performed to welcome guests of honor or to celebrate the birth of a chieftain’s baby.


The Gong Dance is a very unique dance where the performers –who are women only- gracefully dance on the gongs and simultaneously utter beautiful sounds, thus giving the dance its catchy name. To add melodies to the gong sounds, the Gong Dance is also accompanied by a musical string instrument not unlike the sitar, called the sapeq. It is the soothing sounds of the sapeq accompanied by the rhythm of the gong that give the Gong Dance its elegant ambience.


The dance is also known as Kancet Ledo, which is the exact opposite of the Kancet Papatai  that portrays  the heroism and valor of Dayak Kenyah men. While contrary to the vibrant and stern moves of the Kancet Papatai, the Gong Dance showcases gracefulness through delicate and smooth choreographies of the dancers. The dancers would dance as if they were a branch gently swayed by the wind as the dancers’ hands hold the colorful feathers of the Enggang or hornbill Bird, thus adding to the mystical beauty of the dance.


For the performance, dancers wear Dayak Kenyah traditional costumes which are  brightly colored and decorated with distinct Dayak patterns. To add to its beauty, the girls also wear a lovely accessory around their waists called a Taah which is a velvet band ornamented with colorful beads. Decorating their heads are rattan hats with motifs matching those of the costumes as well as the Taah, which are called Layung, while hanging around their necks are necklaces made of old beads or leopard’s fangs.


For more information on Dayak People, please visit : The Longhouse and The Dayak Way of Life

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The Graceful Gong Dance of the Dayak

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