Q: I have what I think is an interesting mask. I don’t know the differences between masks from Java and those from Bali though. This one looks authentic because of the signs of wear, patina, and the old leather tab for the dancer’s mouth to hold on to. I got it on eBay for forty bucks. Thanks much. Steve, 1645
A: This is a popular long-nosed character from one of the classic Topeng dance dramas. As you can see, an inch or more of the nose has been broken off. Most of the Javanese masks we see on are very skillfully made in cities, towns and nearby villages. This one comes from a small village in a remote area. Is it recently made or old? Someone more familiar with Javanese folk art could tell us.
This one is both old and authentic. How old is anybody’s guess. It’s a shame about the nose.
A good woodworker could replace the missing nose. Paint the add-on the same color, but do not antique it. The repair should be obvious. Museums often do this.