Bali & Java

Indonesian dance mask for the poor

Q:  I got these at a online auction and that is all I know about them except the Egyptian looking one is a little smaller than the other two.  Charles, 1442A:  I believe this is a dance mask from the Diem Mountain region of Java. But I’m not sure. It could be from other rural regions of Java, Bali or Lombok. Carved by a poor man in a small village, it appears to be old and used. Masks from the urban areas are always of better craftsmanship.

For the classic wayang topeng dance drama, this mask is pretty crude.  This is made worse by the angle of the first photograph. The second one is correct. Note the wood stick by which the dancer held the mask firmly in front of his face with his teeth. Sometimes you will see bite marks on the stick.  Check out the Bali & Java catagory of our archive to see many more examples of masks from these parts of Indonesia.

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