GOLDEN DEER MASK
Character from the Ramayana epic.
THE WITCH MASK
Personification of evil in the Calonarang Dance Drama
Masks can transform the ordinary to the magical. At their most powerful,
Masks are expressions of religion, ethics and morals. Even on Halloween,
which in Western religion was once considered the night when spirits
of the dead and spirits of evil abounded, and children now don mask and
costume as a form of play, the transformation of the innocent child to
the witch or ghost, come knocking at the door, has an eerie quality.
We gaze into those frightful, immobile masks perched on three and four
foot high bodies, and though we know that behind that rubber or plastic
stands Billy from next door or Susan from across the street, we can feel
something extraordinarily strange. We can feel the magic of the mask.
Indonesia, that exotic equatorial archipelago in Southeast Asia, is a
part of the world where masks are an important part of the culture. From
the mountains and plains of Java, Hindu temples in Bali and jungles of
Kalimantan (Borneo) and Irian Jaya (New Guinea), rituals and dance dramas
are still being performed today, giving the Indonesian people an immediate
experience of their beliefs.
The masks in our collection are in two categories--dance and decorative.
The dance masks, whether ceremonial or for entertainment, are painted
wood. The eyes are an important feature of each mask, helping to convey
the personality being depicted. So as not to distract from the painted
eyes, slits for eye holes are carved at the bottom of the eyes. The dancer
breathes through holes in the carved nose, except certain animal masks,
where the breathing is done through the mouth opening. The mouth may
be open or closed and sometimes the jaw is hinged for movement. Some
masks have a cap with horse hair attached to it. These are images that
represent witches as in the Calonarong
Dance. The Wayang
Wong and Barong dance
dramas may include elaborate headdresses made out of gilded water buffalo
hide and embellished with mirrors.
We can offer to you, the visitor, a glimpse into other cultures and the
opportunity to become the owner of some of this special art.