Bali & Java

Javanese traditional dance mask

Q:  I bought this mask at an auction as part of a box of mixed china. It is made from wood. Hand carved and painted. It seems to be for a child (or just to hang up) as it is only 16.5cm (6 1/2 inches) high by 14cm (5 1/2 inches) wide. I would love to know what it is.  Penny, 1087

A:  Your mask is from East Java, the main island of Indonesia. On the back you can see it bears the name Djemang Keraros (sp?), a character in one of the dance dramas that are based on the Ramayana or Mahabarata epics.  He could be a demon, deity, hero, god, or villain. You’ll have to do a little more research to get a more complete description. The fact that this mask is of poor quality may mean it comes from a small, rural village. On the back you can see where the dancer would have clenched this light-weight mask in his teeth to hold it on. The piece of leather is missing. This is not too small for an adult Indonesian to wear.  A-



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