Getting to Know the Makepung Tradition in Bali, Visitors Must Try the Excitement of Riding a Buffalo

The island of Bali has become an Indonesian tourist icon with its natural beauty and culture that can attract the attention of domestic and foreign tourists. One of the regions in Indonesia has a variety of interesting cultures which are able to give a different appearance compared to other regions. One of the cultural names from Bali which is still preserved today is Makepung.

Makepung itself means chasing, using a pair of buffaloes, and on the island of the Gods Bali you can only find it in Jembrana district, so with this Makepung tradition, Jembrana district is also known as “Makepung Earth”.

This has become an annual tradition followed by farmer groups in Jembrana. Racing buffalo are selected and specially treated like an athlete, even before the race begins the owner does not forget to perform a ritual. Held every Sunday between July and November each year.

Usually a Governor’s Cup tournament will be held to get as many as 300 buffalo participants so that the size of the prize is very attractive. Not only featuring buffalo racing, but in the process of the race accompanied by jegog musicians or a special gamelan made of bamboo. Of course the presence of the gamelan will add to the splendor of the competition.

The development of the Markepung tradition is quite interesting where in 1970 initially there was only one buffalo being contested, but over time a pair was presented and then it became a large cikar or cart, and now because it is too big and difficult to control, the size of the cart has been changed to become smaller .

In the process of the race each buffalo has a jockey like a horse race. Now the Makepung tradition is held regularly and has become a big potential in attracting tourists. Not only local residents, but foreign tourists are also entitled to take part in the buffalo race. Through various changes, Makepung can be done by employers, employees, or anyone who wants to try riding a buffalo in the rice fields.

The makepung attraction takes place on a 2 km long rice field road, an open area, to make it easier for spectators. The ingredients consist of: 1) a pair of buffaloes called mixed buffaloes; 2) rollers commonly called Cikar, made specifically for makepung; 3) Uga, a piece of wood for the Cikar Sarad and hanging on the buffalo’s neck as a support, in the form of a carved dragon wearing silver trim; 4) the crow located in the middle functions to hold the sarad, as a pennant or banner; 5) the buffalo head ornament is called Rubung, in the form of the Barong dance Rubung, made of carved cowhide; 6) a buffalo neck ornament called keroncongan, shaped like a bell made of gongsang; 7) buffalo horn decoration wrapped in a red cloth bag; 8) clothing used by buffalo racers (makepung), according to Jembrana’s typical clothing. It is also necessary to know at the time of the competition for the formation of the identity of each makepung attraction block marked with; the West block uses greenish banners and the East block uses reddish banners and a different jockey uniform.


The winner of this competition is not only determined by who or which pair of buffaloes make it to the finish line the first time, but is also determined by the distance between the participants who are competing. That is, a participant will be considered a winner if he is the foremost when reaching the finish and is able to keep a distance of 10 m from the participants behind him. However, if the buffalo pair behind can narrow the distance with the participant in front of it to less than 10 m (asked), then the buffalo pair behind will come out victorious. Races are completed in a matter of eight to ten minutes in each race.

The unique thing that makes Makepung an exciting and interesting spectacle, is the expression of a jockey who is on a claw and is encouraging his two buffaloes by shouting the yells of their respective regions. The jockey whipped the buffalo with a stick while racing on this 2 m wide track to reach maximum speed.
Some jockeys also use special sticks which have small nails attached to the sticks, so it is not surprising that the buffalo they use bleed after participating in this competition.

What made Makepung even more exciting was that in every race there was almost always a jockey who failed to control his buffalo. This often happens when a participant overtakes another participant and when the buffalo goes out of control, it will go off the track and end up mired in a paddy field or overturned. The audience cheered.
The unique and lively cultural heritage tradition in Jembrana Regency, Bali Province, has been preserved until to this time.

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