• Bali & Java

    That old and used look

    Q:  This mask was given to me by an uncle who told me that it came from a collector of authentic masks and that is all I know about. It is made of some kind of wood and the hair is very course. The jaw of the mask is hinged for movement. The mask is 10 inches long by 8 inches wide. Any info would be greatly appreciated.  Phil, 947 A:  The character is Rangda from one of the classic dance dramas of Bali, Indonesia. It was made for sale to tourists or for export. That darkened varnish plus some dusting and roughing is what I refer to as “antiquing.”…

  • Bali & Java

    The dreaded Cakil from Java

    Q:  While in Yogyakarta last year, I spotted this Cakil topeng. After discovering the price tag, I spent a week looking for a similar mask of equal quality. Failing, I returned and paid 1.55 million Rupiah (after substantial haggling). A mark carved into the back is the emblem of the Sultan of Yogyakarta. The seller claimed it was at least 60 years old, likely more. An unrelated person recently told me the number of feathers on the wings of the crest indicate the mask was made during the reign of the seventh sultan. This would make it between 95 and 129 years old, but I can’t find anything to substantiate…

  • Bali & Java

    A great storage unit story

    Q:   The storage unit I got these masks from was appraised at $30,000-50,000. I did not buy the unit for that amount They did except my offer. The unit contained more than masks. Also Art, Paintings, Books, Jewelry, Ect. Apparently the man that had the collection passed away, was a Librarian for 40 years. Never married, traveled the world. went to some tribes personally, and liked the signatures too.  Kathleen, 910 A:  Kathleen sent pics of a number of masks found in the treasure trove. All of them are quite interesting. Lucky her! This could be one of several male characters in the famous Topeng dance drama of Bali. Wonderful…

  • Bali & Java

    Sometimes repairs are a good idea

    Q:  I have a very large wood carved mask. It is believed to come from Singapore.  It is a face painted red with black and gold. The face has a third eye on the forehead.  The approximate size of the mask is 24″ L, 18″ W. If you have an address I can send pictures to I would do so.  Charissa, 877 A:  This is a Buddhist-style mask that was made in Bali, probably for export or sale to tourists.

  • Bali & Java

    This big Barong is meant to scare

    Q: I am trying to gather as much material on the masks I own….for my children. I never bothered to write down how much they cost, where I got them and when. Wish I was more diligent. The photos are of a large wood carved mask. Do not know anything about it. Was bought at a indoor flea market. Any thoughts? Mickey, 856 A: Barong masks are used in village ceremonies held in rural Bali and Java. These large, heavy masks must be held with the aid of two handles protruding from the rear. The mouth can be moved up and down. This one is of a boar, but there…

  • Bali & Java

    Comedy character from Java

    Q: “I will always answer your email.” Quote from you, Bob. Well, I haven’t heard word one from you. I first submitted my mask about a year ago, I think. When I hadn’t heard anything for several months and reviewed your site and did not see it, I resubmitted my photos. Still no word. I’m still very interested in any information you might give me. Let me try this again. Joanne, 853 A: Joanne, thank you for being so patient with me. I hope I can deserve it.

  • Bali & Java

    Another old mask from Bali

    I have an antique Javanese mask that I purchased from Japan of all places. Its got exactly this same red pigment paint, and that has flaked in a few places to reveal a lighter pigment of the same color below. See the link to it below. The one I am referencing is the “urban” version. Everything about mine, the age/insect activity,dryness of the wood, patina, cracking in the paint, style etc, all points to this being ca 1900-1930 in my opinion. I suspect the latest in your blog fits squarely into that same time period. Hope all is well. Book looks like it has come along!  Nate, 816 http://www.ebay.com/itm/181637062949?ssPageName=STRK:MESELX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1555.l2649

  • Bali & Java

    Early Balinese mask

    This is a mask I acquired from Germany about 40 years ago. I was told it was from Bali, but I wouldn’t rule out other parts of Indonesia. It is 13 inches tall and has been repainted several times. It probably represents a high-ranking character in one of the dance dramas. Since it could have been in a German collection for a long while, it could be quite old. It will be pictured in the new reference book we are about to publish. Have you ever seen a Balinese mask this old?  Bob, 815

  • Bali & Java

    Classic Javanese dance mask

    Q:  We got these at a garage sale. I presume they’re Indonesian – Javanese? I have cheekily submitted the two, because they’re so much a pair. They are too small to be actual costume masks I think. Unless worn by children. Any thoughts?  Jessica, 795 A: Javanese dance masks sometimes look small to American and European collectors because we tend to be larger than the Indonesians. I don’t think it is for children. This particular mask could be Raja Putri or some other high ranking member of the court in the classic