Barong: The Tale of Kunti Sraya



To Balinese Hindus, the Barong is the protector of their island. He is also the material form of the god Siwa who regularly transforms himself into a Barong when coming face to face with his consort in her powerful guise as the witch queen Rangda. The tense and delicate balance between the Barong’s positive energies and Rangda’s dark powers forms the quintessential centerpiece upon which the Hindu Balinese world pivots. One of the most popular Barong plays narrates an episode from the Mahabarata epic called the Tale of Kunti Sraya. Although Indian in origin, the play is distinctly Balinese in flavor and incorporates all major forms of Balinese theatrical performance including refined female dances (pelegongan), barong (bebarongan), masking (patopengan), opera (pearjaan), drama (pengambuhan) and complex musical patterns.

The cast of Barong: The Tale of Kunti Sraya comprise both professional Balinese dancers as well as NUS students. Students enrolled in the class SE2224: Unmasked! An Introduction to Traditional Dance in Southeast Asia, spent a week in Bali in September learning the various roles needed to produce a Barong performance that would meet Balinese nods of approval. They are joined on stage by members of the NUS community including students from SE1101E: Southeast Asia: A Changing Region, and dancers from Eka Suwara Santhi, Singapore’s only Balinese dance group. Musical accompaniment is provided by Gamelan Pinda Sari from the village of Pinda in Bali.

Barong: The Tale of Kunti Sraya celebrates the close relationship that has developed between the Department of Southeast Asian Studies and the Balinese people. It is a collaborative effort and part of an ongoing series of exciting artistic showcases that bring NUS students out of the classroom and into the dynamic cultural worlds of Southeast Asia.

Tickets @ $10 each are available for purchase from the Department of Southeast Asian Studies general office.


Subjectivities: A Journal of Perspectives on Southeast Asia

The inaugural issue of Subjectivities: A Journal of Perspectives on Southeast Asia has launched!

This biannual publication by students and alumni of the Department of Southeast Asian Studies aims to provide an independent platform for students to showcase academic and creative works relating to various issues in Southeast Asia.

The first issue ‘Undersides‘ features articles by our alumni, Cindy Lin and Liani Manta-Khaira, current student Felicia Chia who did an interview with Prof Miksic, other NUS students, as well as Thow Xin Wei from our Singa Nglaras Gamelan ensemble.

The Editorial Team is also looking for Editors and Designer/Web Manager to join them. If you have what it takes, email them at today!

– Interested in a wide range of topics relating to Southeast Asia.
– Good time management and able to effectively facilitate communication between contributors, copywriters and other stakeholders effectively.
– Good command of written English.
– Knowledge of a Southeast Asian language is helpful.
– Proficient in MS Word. Familiarity with InDesign is a plus.
*In addition, please send a short writing sample (may be a recent paper written for a module)

Designer/Web Manager
– Good time management and able to manage different platforms (website, social media)
– Proficient in Adobe Photoshop and website editing.
* Interested students can also send a portfolio of their recent works (website design, publicity materials, graphic design, artworks)

Intricacy – Thai Art by NUS Students

The Department of Southeast Asian Studies is proud to present ‘Intricacy‘, a Thai Art exhibition by students of module SE3224 Thai Drawing and Painting.

The exhibition will be held at the NUS Central Library from 9 to 14 September 2015. It is located outside the library restricted area and is open to all.

For directions to NUS Central Library, please go to NUS Campus map:

Intricacy Thai Art Exhibition 9-14 Sept 2015

No Longer a ‘Noob’ in Martial Arts by Wee Min Er (Year 2 student, Southeast Asian Studies major)

Drawing a wonderful end to SE3880B, I can proudly say that even though I do not practice martial arts, I am not a noob in understanding martial arts in Southeast Asia. If anyone is thinking of what SE modules to take the next academic year, do consider SE3880B!

Wee Min Er, a 2nd year Southeast Asian Studies major, shares with us her experience in learning about Martial Arts in Southeast Asia through the module SE3880B. Read more…

About SE3880B Martial Arts in Southeast Asia

This module introduces the student to the study of martial arts in Southeast Asia. Southeast Asian martial arts are products of hundreds of years of cultural exchange and historical interaction with various civilizations. This module offers students an exciting opportunity to experience and learn a variety of forms of Southeast Asian martial arts. Students enrolled in the module will also experience the exciting physical and cultural practices that are essential in the learning of the martial arts through hands on sessions.

Topeng Calonarang – A Story of Magic and Power


NUS Department of Southeast Asian Studies, with support from the Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia and NUS Office of Student Affairs, is proud to present Topeng Calonarang – A Story of Magic and Power.

Topeng Calonarang tells the story of the exploits of the widow witch of Dirah and King Erlangga of Kediri, East Java. Derived from classical texts composed in the fourteenth century, the story of Calonarang is very well-known in Bali. Performances of Calonarang include a host of actors playing different roles ranging from witches, animals, students of magic, comedians and the lion-like Barong.  The play is traditionally associated with death and resurrection and is often performed as part of temple ceremonies.

Produced and directed for the first time by students in the class SE3230 Seen and Unseen: Explorations in Balinese Theatre, this student led production is a Bali-Singapore (NUS) first. It is an excellent opportunity to showcase the close bilateral ties Singapore has with Indonesia as well as the fascinating beauty of Balinese dance drama, rarely seen in Singapore. The performance will also feature guest dancers from Singapore’s only Balinese dance group, Eka Suwara Santhi.

Migrant Workers Habitats in Singapore – assignment by students of SE3216 (Semester 2, AY2013/2014)

As part of their assignment, students of the module SE3216 Migration and Diaspora in Southeast Asia went around Singapore to visit and take photos of migrant workers’ places of congregation and leisure activities in Singapore.

A mapped collection of photos taken by the students are available for viewing here.

About SE3216 Migration and Diaspora in Southeast Asia

This module seeks to understand the complex trajectories, meanings, and outcomes of human mobility in Southeast Asia during the modern period.  The main topics of this module include migration patterns and diasporic identities, cosmopolitans and hybrids, political and cultural minorities, as well as displacement and refugees.  Readings and discussion will include both theoretical approaches to these topics as well as empirical and ethnographic case studies.