I had just come from a trip to Bali with my best friend, Nat. One of the Highlights of the trip was watching the Kecak and Fire Dance in Uluwatu Temple. The dance begins just before the sunsets; providing a magnificent back drop of gold, orange, reds and pinks.
As taken from Wikipedia, “Kecak is also known as the Ramayana Monkey Chant, the piece, performed by a circle of at least 150 performers wearing checked cloth around their waists, percussively chanting “cak” and moving their hands and arms, depicts a battle from the Ramayana. The monkey-like Vanara led by Hanuman helped Prince Rama fight the evil King Ravana. Kecak has roots in sanghyang, a trance-inducing exorcism dance.”
You are spellbound for an hour watching a play that is filled with enchantment, dramatic hand and eye movement, funny anecdotes, and the occasional tourist standing up and blocking your view. There are a number of videos of the Kecak dance available on Youtube if you want to take a look at it.
When the spectacle is over, you are invited to take photos of the cast and the crew. I took it as an opportunity to photograph Sita. She was sporting an amazing eye makeup look.
Sita is one of the characters of the play. She was brought to life by the actress Herlina Arisetyani. I was drawn to her eye makeup. It was colorful and intense!
Upon examining her photos, I wanted to understand the process.
I believe that the eye shadows were applied using a wet brush technique. The photos showed amazing pigment pay off. This product also held up very well as there was no evident of fall out when I took the photo an hour after the performance started.
I think she applied the yellow highlight first. Black was used at the very end of the makeup application process. You can see a hint of the color yellow above her eyebrow makeup; an indication that the color black was applied on top of it.
Then some purple eye shadow was applied on her lids; all the way to her socket line. Then a violet colored eye shadow was applied along her socket line to blend and add intensity. Starting in the inner corner of the eye, this was blended and extended in an upward and outward motion. This color was blended well into her eyebrows. This created a “lift” in her eyes.
As a finishing touch, an intense black color was applied on her brows and on her lower lash line. The black shadow on her lower lash line was extended at an angle. If you’d scroll to the second photo, you’d see that this angled “eye liner” almost “meets up” with the corner of her eye brow makeup. I believe she applied some black eye shadow on her upper lash line, but it isn’t visible due to the hooded nature of her eyelids. I am quite sure that she added a hint of this black eye shadow on the outer corner of her eyes into her socket line to add more depth and drama.
This eye makeup really did help in making her eye look big and dramatic when she started acting during the Kecak and Fire Dance.
A similar eye makeup was also used on another actress who played the role of Laksamana. The character Laksamana is the younger brother of Sita’s love interest Rama; who also sported the same makeup.
I’m not sure if the subtle variation in the eye makeup is indicative of the sex of the character. The brows of Laksamana and Rama were not as angular as that of Sita and they sport a more “worried” appearance. After all Rama and Laksamana for most part of the story, spent their time looking for the kidnapped Sita.
The foundation used was very “beigey”. But that’s usually the color available for stage makeup. It does add some dimension and color to the face.
Sita did sport a very contoured nose. This added to the drama of her look. But I think the actress did this for more symmetry.
I also noticed that she used a matte highlight on the bridge of her nose, on her cupids bow and she placed a very small dot at the bottom of her lower lip.
I also noticed that Sita’s blush was not as intense as that of the rest of the cast. It was drapped on her cheeks all the way to her temples. This application made her eyes stand out more. There was no heavy contouring on her cheeks, forehead and jaw line.
Sita also sported a bindi with some granules glued on her forehead. I was told this was their belief to aid in concentration.
Sita, along with Rama and Laksamana, wore a mauvy-red lipstick. Sita applied a generous amount on her lips with out the intention of over extending them.
While I was writing this blog, I sent Herlina a private message on Instagram asking her what brand of makeup she used.
She said it was Ranee. Unfortunately I could not find any official online presence of the brand, but I was able to bump into a few Indonesian bloggers who had reviewed various products from the brand.
After going through some photos on line, I have seen that this makeup look is quite common during religious ceremonies or cultural activities that is unique to Balinese Hinduism. In some photos, the eye makeup is more colorful. Vivid blues, blazing reds, flaming pinks… I’m sure what I saw at the Kecak and Fire Dance is only a fraction of the visuals for these types of activities.
This is the beauty of traveling, you experience a culture that is different from your own that tickles your interest.
The Kecak and Fire Dance is performed at Uluwatu Temple daily (weather permitting) starting at sunset (circa 5:45) and finishes at around 7pm. You’d need to pay 30,000 Indonesian Rupiah ( a little over $2) to enter Uluwatu Temple. To watch the Kecak and Fire Dance, you’d need to pay an extra 100,000 Indonesian Rupiah (a little over $7). Tickets are limited and are on a first come first serve basis. The ticket counter opens at 5pm. There is no distinct line. Be prepared to get crushed.
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