Bali & Java

Good old or bad old?

Balinese mask
Balinese mask

Q:  I’m trying to find out where from and how old this mask is that my wife inherited. The mask’s parameters are as follows:
height              10″
width                 8″
leather beard    14″     Thanks, Pierre, 714

A:  This is a character from the classic dance dramas of Bali. It probably isn’t very old. I say that because if a mask is used for a long time it slowly develops wear and a patina on its surface. This mask is faded, the paint is chipping off and three of the four fangs are broken off. It does not look like a true antique.

In some cases wear and damage appear on antiques and the poor condition is actually appreciated by collectors as proof of old age and repeated usage. The repairs made in the past seem quaint and can actually increase the object’s value. We like to collect masks that have native repairs and an old patina. True old age is much more desirable than what you see here. (Click on the photo for an enlarged view.)  C-

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