Balinese Mask – Religious Pressure Driving


Bali is an island, which through the ages has been affected by lots of other cultures. Whilst Bali’s religious root stems from animism and ancestral worship, Hindu mythology and Buddhism have been main influences. Nevertheless, no matter of what they had been practicing, a person aspect has often remained regular: “Lifetime in Bali is ruled by faith” . Therefore, it comes as no shock that the artwork of mask building derived as a religious act, fairly than a quest to produce aesthetic splendor. Masks hence give type to godly and chthonic forces and are made use of in theatrical performances to train variations of Indian Sanskrit Texts . In addition, theatrical mask dances are utilized for, “planting and harvest celebrations and at times of transition in the lives of folks and communities”. Mask dances, this kind of as Topeng, also explore politics of the past and existing, and morals. I will further more talk about the masked dances in another area of this write-up.

Theatre in Bali, Indonesia is a lot more than a distinguished self-discipline it is a general performance entwined with every working day daily life. Theatre, like all art, is a section of the religion and society in Bali consequently all Balinese take part in artwork in some way. On top of that, audio, dance, costumes, and drama are not different entities, but alternatively parts of Balinese Theatre that rely on each other to attain their supreme reason: Creating unity and harmony amongst the 3 worlds. In this short article, I am going to explore Balinese masks and the religious-socio-cultural job they play in Balinese Theatre.

Balinese Beliefs & Mythology

The Bali Hindu religion, the basis of the purchased Balinese society, pervades every single element of everyday living. Bali Hinduism, which has root in Indian Hinduism and in Buddhism, adopted the animistic traditions of the indigenes, who inhibited the island all-around the initial millennium BC. This impact strengthened the perception that the gods and goddesses are current in all things. Just about every ingredient of nature, hence, possesses its own electricity, which demonstrates the electricity of the gods. A rock, tree, dagger, or woven fabric is a likely property for spirits whose electrical power can be directed for superior or evil. Even so, even art store masks, those wood masks created in an unconsecrated assembly-line way to be sold to tourist, have been acknowledged to turn into possessed. A previous director of Bali’s Artwork Heart has a concise rationalization: “If you make an interesting house, anyone will want to live in it.” A fascinating proposition

In accordance to Bali Hinduism, for every beneficial basic principle or constructive power there is an equally powerful harmful forces. These are at times referred to as forces of the proper (high) and forces of the left (small). The two components ideally coexist in equilibrium so that neither assumes as well significantly ability. Retaining this precarious equilibrium is a continuous preoccupation for the Balinese, who put together day by day choices to satiate the spirits and retain them below manage as perfectly as plead for blessings.

Offerings, or banten, change in accordance to the mother nature of the ceremony and whether or not they are supposed for a significant or lower spirit. They could consist of mix of incense, flowers, previous Chinese coins, fabric, betel nuts, arak (liquor), holy h2o, palm-leaf decoration, and food stuff. The foodstuff is not in fact meant to be eaten by the gods but features as suggests by which the men and women give back what rightfully belongs to the spirits. The most considerable moment in the existence of presenting is its devotion. Just after that, what occurs to it is vital. For that reason, choices to lower spirit, which are left on the ground, are generally scavenged by chickens or dogs. The larger offerings to large spirits are taken back again to the family household soon after residing for a when at the temple, and the edible components are then consumed by spouse and children customers.

Balinese temples, embellished with a ornamental exhibit of stones carvings, consist of breezy, open up air courtyards, surrounded by a wall and entered by a huge split gate. After inside the entrance is a cost-free standing wall (aling-aling). Over and above the wall is a big, open spot with several compact shrines of different measurements, each dedicated to a unique god or goddess. At temple festivals, the commonly somber shrines are extremely decorated, and worshippers appear to pray and devote their choices, then retire to converse with pals. A festival is a extremely social event, culminating in a reside efficiency of mask dance or puppets offered for all to take pleasure in-regional villagers and attendees as well as the spirits of checking out deities and ancestors, and even an occasional vacationers.

The dance and masks dramas that are performed at the temples as component of the odalan are viewed as critical choices to the god and goddess. The deities would be hesitant to show up at any birthday celebration the place there is no enjoyment. A mask dancer helps make an offering of his competencies each individual time he performs, in some conditions serving in a capability identical o a priest. Wali dances, individuals permitted to take place in the interior sanctum of the temple complex, are directed towards the deified ancestors, who are honored friends, and are likely to be concerned with spirits relatively than plot, character, or tale.

Balinese Mask Effectiveness

Masks performances have been significant rituals on the Indonesian island of Bali for over a thousand years. Though many ancients societies made use of wood masks to rejoice their religions, Bali is a person of the couple sites the place the ritual artwork has never disappeared and is, in fact, flourishing. Wooden carvers are producing more wonderful and additional elaborate wood mask than ever, and hundreds of men and women around the globe collect these compelling objects. The proliferation of Balinese artists and functionality teams implies that the very small island is undergoing a cultural renaissance, the centerpiece of which is the tapel-the lovely Balinese masks.

Masks may symbolize gods, animals, demons, or humans and can be complete masks or fifty percent masks based on the dance they are utilised for. Masks can also be sacred or non-sacred based on their purpose and preparing. Because the mystical theatre in Bali has captured the attention of so quite a few foreigners to the land, non-sacred masks are made abundantly for sale. Having said that, the ideal of the mask carvers have not deserted their calling to develop the sacred, consecrated masks when they have a “experience” to do so.

The Balinese classify the masks of heroes, clowns, and lower spirits according to their traits. The dashing heroes (frequently incarnation of gods), attractive queens, and virtuous kings are explain as halus, a Balinese word meaning “sweet,” “light,” and “refined.” Reduced spirits, animals, and brutish varieties, like antagonist kings, are referred to as keras, or “robust,” “rough,” and “forceful.” There are selected distinctions in involving, which usually encompass the clowns and servants.

The a few forms of wood masks applied in these dramas depict individuals, animals, and demons. Human-seeking masks can be comprehensive confront or a few-quarter encounter (extending to the upper lip), or can have a movable jaw. They are expected to resemble specific character forms alternatively than specific persons. Heroes and heroines are stereotypically handsome, with refined functions matched b the actions of the dancers. The coarser a character is, he more exaggerated the characteristics are: eyes bulge, mouths and noses thicken, and tooth turn into fangs. Colour is also used to reveal character of mask.

Animal masks are mythological relatively than real looking. Acutely aware of the difference between people and animal, the Balinese emphasize the change by designing animal wood masks that seem to be carefully related to demons, even for magically potent and god-associated animals like the heroic and pleasant Hanuman, the white monkey of the Ramayana epic. Birds, cows, and even frogs have gaping mouths and horrendous protruding fangs. Protuberant eyes with black pupils stare from golden irises in masks that can rarely be termed attractive regardless of elaborate crowns and earrings.

Maybe the most remarkable wood masks are people of the witches and what are identified as small spirits. The low spirits, who can be troublesome if no appeased, are from time to time explain by Westeners as demons. This is inaccurate, because minimal spirits have power to accomplish very good deads and give safety. The Balinese do not independent the supernatural from the normal. The spirit entire world is a living force that need to be acknowledge and appeased via rituals and offerings. Simply because the Balinese grant the masks powers that befit their roles and culture, the masks of witches and reduced spirits are the greatest and most grotesque of all traditional masks. The imposing wigs on most of these wood masks magnify the head and stature of the wearer. A basket unit hooked up inside of the development retains it to the wearer’s head. Considering the fact that the arrangement is rather unstable, dancers frequently continuous their unwieldy wooden masks although they conduct.

In some areas of Bali, trance is a repeated portion of ritual elsewhere, it is nonexistent. In Calonarang and Barong mask dramas, trance is widespread. The subject matter of these dramas is witchcraft, the supernatural, and the struggle of optimistic and unfavorable forces. The big people, Durga, the Goddess of Demise as Rangda, and Barong Ket, Lord of the Jungle, struggle with each individual ounce of magical energy they can harness, at times assisted by armies.

Kerambitan in southwest Bali is a single of the places acknowledged for highly energetic spirits and the frequencies of trance possession. A dancer who the moment labored as director of Bali’s Art Center tells a story about the Rangda and Barong masks of Kerambitan, his village: “Our priest experienced a aspiration that Rangda and Barong masks will have to be aspect of the village temple, so we experienced them established in the prescribed fashion. At the time they were being introduced to their temple household, they started fighting with every other while they have been inside their baskets. They created so substantially sound and rigidity that the masks experienced to be divided.” Though the Rangda mask was moved to a further temple, the two mask nevertheless fought and the Rangda mask was moved to one more village. On the mask’s birthday, the working day they were being each consecrated, they experienced to be united in the temple once more. Rangda was brought from the other village, displayed in the ceremony, and then immediately place absent.

Balinese Mask With Supernatural Electricity

Masks are regarded as powerful receptacles for wandering spirits. A picket mask loaded with divine vitality gets tenget (metaphysically billed). Made from a particular wooden that is cut at specific instances, tenget masks are normally associated with a sure range of rituals. Picket masks in a tenget point out may possibly lose some of their exclusive electricity about time and have to have to be “recharged” in a unique ceremony Initiations of renewed or new masks, called pasupati, can involve as numerous as ten times of feasting, performances of dance and Wayang Kulit (shadow puppets), cockfights, and processions. A high priest is referred to as to officiate the specific instant when the “overall body” of the wooden mask separates from the “head” (spirit) and the god inhabiting the wood mask is “sent residence”. Right after the freshly vitalized mask is returned to the temple, one more set of ceremonies is held to invite the spirit again to the wood mask. The potent mask of Durga, Goddess of Death and Black magic, and sometimes identified as Rangda is sometimes tested to see if its power is even now burning. If explosions of hearth occur from the eyes, ears, head, nose, or mouth of the mask, it is thought of sakti (sacred or effective). It is put in the village cemetery in the middle of the night time throughout an primarily auspicious time known as Kanjeng Kliwon Pamelastali, a effective time when spirits are existing and should be accept with offerings.

Sacred wood masks are by no means exhibited on partitions as operates of art as in Western properties, but are kept in easy cloth bags with drawstring tops. The colour of the bag is important-no matter if yellow, white, or black-and-white checked-since shade symbolism affects the spirit of the wood masks. When encased in the luggage, the wooden masks are positioned in baskets, which in convert are saved within just the temple advanced. If a wooden mask belongs to an individual, it will likely be saved within the household temple. Sacred wooden masks are only displayed for their birthdays, which will be aside of an odalan, or temple pageant. Dancers unveil their wood masks when commissioned to conduct at an odalan. Only hardly ever is a wooden mask uncovered in get to be reconditioned: the paint refreshed, worm holes stuffed, and gold leaf touched up. This is by no means accomplished casually, but in conjunction with elaborate rituals.

Masks produced from the exact tree are felt to have family members ties. When a tree develop a knot like expansion, it is known as beling, which suggests “pregnant.” Care is taken not to harm the tree, and when the slash is created, a particular ceremony is held to appease the spirits of the tree. If these rituals are not followed, a spiritually potent tree could use its strength to result in destruction. In Singapudu village, residence of two Bali’s most renowned woodcarvers, wooden is no longer taken from an primarily tenget tree that grows at the edge of the village. Two clergymen executed the requisite ceremonies before getting rid of wood, but inside of a week both equally died of mysterious leads to.


By means of this transient evaluation of Balinese Masked Performances, it gets to be clear that the components of theatre, the story, the masks, the overall performance, are all unique and demand a lot preparing. Balinese masks that are used in religious ceremonies have wonderful concentrations of electrical power and, therefore, should be addressed extremely very carefully. Woodcarving masks applied in traditional dance and drama performances, even if not sacred, also should not be handled casually

It helps to realize that to the Balinese, there is not the same differentiation that we in the West make in between animate and inanimate objects. Almost everything is made up of spirit. When you look at that some of the woodcarving masks stand for evil spirits, such as Rangda, queen of the witches, or that some stand for gods or legendary protectors, such as the Barong, it is a massive accountability to wear these woodcarving masks and mix with these powers. This is commonly finished possibly in ceremonies or as element of performing out the excellent dramas that derive primarily from historic Hindu epics. In Bali, it is customary that the dramas will end with neither aspect “successful” out over the other – rather, there is a restoration of the harmony between the superior and evil forces, which, according to Balinese perception, have to be kept in equilibrium.

When a person from the West puts on a mask, he is typically pretending to be an individual else. But in Bali when anyone puts on mask, specially a sacred mask, he gets to be anyone else. The mask has a life drive – a spiritual magic. A sacred mask is deemed to be virtually alive, and when the performer puts it on, the mask’s electric power also enters his system. The Balinese earth is crammed with magical power. Objects that we as westerners would ordinarily take into account to be devoid of the capability to exert impact on other objects or folks to them might possess a mystical pressure.

By examining the craftsmanship of these masks, it is crystalline why Bali is famed for its lovely masks and masked dance performance. To see a a variety of Wooden Carving Mask & Sculpture from Bali, remember to check out : []