• Bali & Java

    Petruk from East Java

    Q:  Missed the boat on buying this one about a year ago. The craftsmanship utilizes high detail in many areas, and its clearly been danced.  Nate, 1193 A:  This character, known as Petruk, is easy to recognize by his long nose. Sorry you didn’t get it. The carving is fabulous. As you know, masks of Java and Bali and other parts of Indonesia are inspired by Indian influences which were originally used to propagate religious principles and dramas from the Hindu epics such as the Ramayana or Mahabarata. These masks depict archetypal characters like demons, deities, heroes, gods and villains. Masks of the World has a separate chapter for Bali & Java.      …

  • Bali & Java

    Classic dance mask from Java

    Q:  I have 6 authentic Javanese dancing masks from the early 1900’s. We got them from a parent who was an original member of the Denishawn school of dancing in Los Angeles in 1915.  The masks were part of a world tour.  It’s possible there are pictures of the dancers with the masks.  I did some research on Denishawn dance and if you are a dancer then you know what its all about.  Tracie, 1158 A:  It’s nice to see a group of characters from a Javanese traditional dance drama, though I will use just one for this blog. It would be Sita, the beautiful queen of the great king…

  • Bali & Java

    Cheap Balinese tourist mask from 1960’s

    Q:  This is one of three masks my parents bought on a trip to Indonesia in the 1960s.  I’m pretty sure they bought them on Bali.  They were there with the Washington State Wheat Commission.  I don’t know how much they paid but I’m sure not much. I have looked at images online and have not seen much that looks like my masks so I was hoping you might know something about them.  I have read some of your other posts so I understand they might not have value.  I just like them and would like to have some background if you have any to offer.  Noreen, 1115 A:  I…

  • 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,…

  • Bali & Java

    Subali the monkey king

    Let’s look at a professional dance mask from Bali. It would be danced in the Wayang Wong, one of the famous Hindu dance dramas that are still performed on the island. As you can see, it is very skilfully carved, painted and decorated. Masks of this quality are used by the well-known dance companies, and occasionally purchased by serious collectors and museums. This one comes from the Setiadarma House of Mask and Puppet in Bali. Fortunately this tradition is still alive and well in Bali.  1083 Save

  • Bali & Java

    Little Rangda mask

      Q:  Can you please tell me something about this mask? It measures 11cm x 11cm, with the fabric tongue adding 20cm extra. It came from the Indonesian family of my wife. Many thanks in advance.  Herman, 1061 A:  Technically this is not a true mask. It is half the size and was not made to be worn, at least, not on a face. There are no eye holes or straps. We know that some cultures use small “masks” to put on their houses as a protective omen, hang from a belt, tourist souvenir, etc. Do the Balinese people use small Rangdas (a very famous dance drama character) for anything…

  • Bali & Java

    Real masks from Lombok

    Q:  Attached are the old Lombok masks I told you about.  These are from the Sasak people and are probably meant for Topeng dance dramas.  One is a Raksa demon, the other I don’t recognize.  Aaron, 1060 A:  We hardly ever get to see the real masks actually used by the people of Lombok, Indonesia. They are so different from those over-decorated faces the island’s tourist industry produces.  A

  • Bali & Java

    Buying masks can be tricky

    Q:  I purchased a hand carved wooden mask in a lot at auction. It appears quite sinister. I am not well versed in masks but after a little research it looks similar to masks from Indonesia (Bali). My wife detests it and doesn’t want me bringing it in our house. Can you assist me in identifying this mask?  John, 1023 A:  It is a character from the traditional dance dramas of Indonesia, probably made somewhere on the main island of Java, west of Bali. Most serious collectors, such as myself, would agree with your wife. The mask was quickly carved and painted to begin with, then, purposely or accidentally, ruined.…

  • Bali & Java

    Bad guy from Bali

    Q:  All the art gallery told me when I bought it in 94 was that it was from Indonesia. I paid about $350 for it at that time. I know my melon of a head doesn’t fit in it, but a slightly smaller head would. Its made of wood, hand painted, with horse hair. That’s about all I know. It looks super cool, that’s for sure. It freaks most people out when they notice it on my wall. Chris, 1002 A:  There are lots of masked characters in the Topeng saga, one of the famous dance dramas performed on the island of Bali. This is one of the bad guys.…

  • Bali & Java

    Garuda mask from Bali

    Q:  I just got this mask from an Indonesian trader in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. She claims it was made in rural Sarawak, Borneo. It is entirely carved out of wood (type unknown) and despite looking weathered and old, I believe it is relatively new. The price was MYR150 (less than USD40). Size-wise, it is approximately 8 inches tall and 5.5 inches wide. I’d be interested to know what type of mask this really is. The trader said it is not a Garuda, but nevertheless a bird design that they treat as a lucky charm.  Derrick, 976 A:   Your attractive mask is a Garuda, inexpensively made in Bali for the huge tourist and collector…