Old Wayang Topeng Mask – East Java – Indonesia
Early to mid 20th century. Wood, hair, pigment. Cm. 21,0 x cm 17,7 width (8.27″ x 6.97″).
Topeng (Indonesian for “mask”) is a dramatic form of Indonesian dance in which one or more mask-wearing, ornately costumed performers interpret traditional narratives concerning fabled kings, heroes and myths, accompanied by gamelan music.
It is believed that the use of masks is related to the cult of the ancestors, which considered dancers the interpreters of the gods.
In topeng, there is a conscious attempt to include many, sometimes contradictory, aspects of the human experience: the sacred and the profane, beauty and ugliness, refinement and caricature. A detailed description and analysis of topeng pajegan, the one-man form of topeng, is available in Masked Performance by John Emigh, a Western theater professor who has become a performer of Balinese topeng.
Excellent such examples are exhibited at the Musée du quai Branly (Paris) and the Royal Museums of Art and History (Brussels).
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