About Sabung ayam the word jago is suspected to have originated from the Portuguese word ‘jogo’, which is pronounced ‘zhaogo’ and literally means “game”. That said, this term refers to a game of cockfighting in the archipelago which is very popular with the Portuguese. From this pronunciation, this term was absorbed into the archipelago and entered various languages such as Malay or Javanese. However, it is not clear, since when did the term jago become a loanword. In the case of Banten, referring to the book History of Banten by TBG. Roesjan (1954), the phenomenon of absorption of the word jago into the local language was recorded as having appeared in 1810.
Referring to Anthony Reid in his work entitled Southeast Asia in the Age of Commerce 1450-1680 Volume One: The Lands Below the Winds, this cockfighting phenomenon, along with other spectacular fights such as elephant or tiger fights, was commonly held to celebrate royal parties in cities in Southeast Asia. According to him, in the past the chicken was one of the animals that was often pitted against as a symbol of the excitement or greatness of the face of power from the kingdoms in Southeast Asia.
Furthermore, according to Reid, at least in pre-Islamic Java and until now still living in Bali, the practice of cockfighting does not only mean social rites, but also has a religious meaning and is an important part of temple crowd parties, purification and pilgrimages. The blood of fighting cocks was seen as a sacrifice to please the gods, for fertility, for purification ceremonies, and for celebrating the success of war.
Sabung Ayam Discourse Traces
Javanese people know the Cindelaras folklore. Taking the context and historical background of the 11th century Jenggala Kingdom, this narrative tells the story of cockfighting and its relationship with symbols of power. Not except for the Sundanese people, Ciuang Wanara folklore is also found. Taking the context and historical background in the era of the Galuh Kingdom in the 8th century. Both folklore tell stories about the king’s son who was banished, and because of his destiny they were reunited with his father, who was a king, through a moment of cockfighting practice.
Not except for other sources, mention La Galigo di Bugis. The epic’s main character, Sawerigading, is also said to have a penchant for cockfighting. In fact, the dragons used to be Bugis people could not be called brave (tobarani) if they did not have the habit of fighting chickens (masung manu ‘). Perhaps also not only Bugis, but for the people of Java, Bali, Sundanese, and others, roosters used to have an association to depict images of courage or masculinity.
If folklore or epics from the past can be a source of historical references, it can be concluded that historically the symbolism of chickens has presented a sacred meaning as a symbolic representation of strength. The sacred meaning of cockfighting is at least seen in Bali, for example.
Geertz while doing ethnographic research in Bali revealed the importance of spurs. The spurs, which are made of iron metal four or five inches long and attached to the two chicken legs, are only sharpened during a lunar eclipse or when the moon is not full. In addition, these spurs must also be treated in such a way by their owners and guarded so that they are not seen or held by women.