About the origin of Ronggeng Gunung there are several developing versions. The first version, this art was created by Raden Sawunggaling. It was said that at that time Galuh’s kingdom was in a chaotic atmosphere because of the enemy attack, forcing the King to evacuate to a safe place. In this dire situation, Raden Sawunggaling came and saved the king.
As an expression of gratitude, Raja Galuh then married Raden Sawunggaling with his daughter. When Raden Sawunggaling ascended the throne to replace his father-in-law, he created a dance that served to entertain the palace. The dancer was chosen who was really good at dancing, good and beautiful voice. So at that time, Ronggeng dancers have a distinguished status in the community.
The second version tells the story of a daughter whose lover died. So sad, so that day and night he cried lamenting the death of the person he loved.
Concerned at seeing this, some young men came to entertain. They danced around the princess while covering her nose because of the stench of dead bodies. Eventually, the princess finally joined in dancing and singing in a sad tone. Many of these scenes are the basis for movements in Ronggeng Gunung’s current performance.
The third version tells of Dewi Samboja, daughter of King Siliwangi who is married to Anggalarang. The Goddess’s husband was killed by a pirate led by Kalasamudra.
Dewi Samboja was very sad and angry with the pirates who had killed her husband. Knowing this, King Siliwangi gave wangsit to Dewi Samboja. The contents are that to be able to repay Anggalarang’s death, Dewi Samboja must disguise herself as a ronggeng dancer named Nini Bogem.
Dewi Samboja then learns to dance ronggeng and martial arts. Until one day, the goddess had the opportunity to dance ronggeng in the Kalasamudra place. Kalasamudra who did not know that dancing with him was the disguised Dewi Samboja who was finally killed. And the goddess’s revenge is avenged.
The fourth version, the most popular is the third version. Tells about Raden Anggalarang, Prabu Haur Kuning’s son from the Galuh Kingdom, married Siti Samboja who insisted on establishing a kingdom in Pananjung (now Pananjung Nature Reserve). Though the father had warned of the danger in the location because it was close to the pirate headquarters.
Prabu Haur Kuning’s concerns were proven. The kingdom of Pananjung was attacked by pirates led by Kalasamudra. In an unbalanced battle, Raden Anggalarang was killed. While the wife managed to save herself.
In his desperate escape, Siti Samboja changed its name to Dewi Rengganis and disguised herself as Ronggeng. By harboring pain he wandered from place to place. He expressed his pain in a sad kawih :
Ka mana boboko suling
Teu kadeuleu-deuleu deui
Ka mana kabogoh kuring
Teu Kadeuleu datang deui
The revenge that accompanied him finally took him to the Kalasamudra place. Disguised as Ronggeng, Dewi Samboja finally managed to kill the unwary pirate.
From these stories, it can be imagined that Ronggeng Gunung was born from a pain and revenge. That said, the maids of Dewi Rengganis who joined in dancing covered their faces with cloth while fishing their enemies to drift away in the dance. When the enemy is tempted and goes into the center of the circle, a knife peeps waiting for the right moment to be stabbed.
Aside from being an entertainment, Ronggeng Gunung used to function as an introduction to traditional ceremonies such as harvests, marriages, circumcisions, and reception. Before the show began, rituals and giving offerings were usually held so that the performance went smoothly. The form of offerings consisted of seven kinds of cookies and seven colors, golden banana, a mirror, comb and cigarette.
The depiction of Dewi Samboja or Dewi Rengganis is almost similar to Dewi Sri Pohaci in Sundanese mythology which is related to farming activities. Therefore, Ronggeng Gunung dance also symbolized the activities of the Goddess in farming, ranging from going down to the fields, planting rice, harvesting, until finally the thanksgiving after harvest.
Ronggeng Gunung development in the period from 1904 to 1945, there was a lot of shift in value in the presentation, for example in the way of respecting the original by holding hands on the chest changed by shaking hands. certain people not only shake hands but act further like kissing, touching and so on. In fact, sometimes dancers can be taken to a quiet place.
Because it is not in accordance with customs, then in 1948 Ronggeng Gunung art was forbidden to be shown to the public. It was only in 1950 that Ronggeng Gunung art was revived with a number of updates, both in dance and in organizing so that the possibility of negative things could be avoided.
To prevent negative views of this type of dance that is almost extinct, regulations are applied that prohibit dancers and pengibing from making direct contact.
Some scenes that can lead to negative actions such as kissing or holding a dancer are completely prohibited. This regulation is a way to eliminate people’s views and assumptions that ronggeng is identical to women who like to tease men.