Makepung lampit or buffalo plowing race is a unique tradition in Jembrana. This ancient art once disappeared, but lately it has been revived by the villagers of Peh, Kaliakah, Negara subdistrict. Now, it becomes a tourist attraction in the area of West Bali.This activity serves as a tryout before appearing in the makepung or buffalo race in the circuit. This unique attraction takes place in the paddy field before the planting season. “This buffalo race at wetland is the forerunner of buffalo race in the circuit widely known today held on sandy land or dry land,” said Ketut Mangku Lega, 70, one of the elders at Peh village, Kaliakah.
Buffalo plowing race, he said, would be more difficult because of the terrain was in the water and mud. Energy of the buffaloes would be drained when driven. This kind of race started to develop around the year 1920-1925, when local farmers in the subak area would begin to grow rice. This attraction utilizes a number of rice field plots, a pair of water buffalo and a jockey. Afterward, they compete against the other participants with track length of 200-300 meters. A pair of buffalo is tied together with plow which has been modified to be thinner and sloping.
Meanwhile, the jockey is not absolutely required to put on a complete clothing as in the conventional buffalo races. Sometimes the jockeys only come with bare chest and put on distinctive headdress of buffalo race. Then, the buffaloes getting involved use rumbing or head ornament and flag accessories. According to Mangku Ketut Lega, the buffalo plowing race could only be held in the paddy field whose soil texture was not too deep, so the buffaloes could be freely driven and did not fall into the mud. And such soil texture could only be found around Peh, Kaliakah and it enabled the implementation of buffalo race.
This activity was routinely held by farmers and buffalo owners around Peh and Manistutu as a tryout before put into competition. This race accentuated the beauty of buffalo movement and its jockey. A pair of buffalo should be running straight and there was a creative style of buffalo head movement and the jockey when racing. I Ketut Master, one of the initiators, said that such ancient attraction drew the attention of foreign travelers. The condition boosted the morale of people at Manistutu and Peh to develop such a unique agrarian art of Jembrana society. They combined the buffalo plowing race attraction with a number of other activities such as Jegog art performance and trail motor touring.
By teaming up with hotels and travel agencies, the community chiefly the racing groups were empowered with this buffalo plowing race. “So far, we have not had a fixed agenda such as the buffalo race held in the circuit. However, when receiving order from hotel or travel agency we can hold it twice a week,” said Master. (BTN/015)