In this article, we are going to discuss the “8 Best Indonesia Souvenirs: Mask” article series. Talking about the mask in Indonesia has so many uses. We do know that mask has become one of the oldest forms of expression ever created by human civilization. Some people can just use the mask for performing, or maybe use the mask for more serious matters like doing a ritual or something. The first thing we should learn about the mask is character. There are several masks that can resemble characters very well via their looks, and the performance by the dancers or performers. 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 or other traditional music instruments.
Indonesian traditional masks
Indonesian traditional masks becomes so popular in some Indonesian regions as a part of their custom culture. There are so many types of them since every region has its own typical traditional mask. Indonesian traditional masks commonly become a part of traditional dance. Most of them bring the richest cultures of Indonesian traditional dances.
In Indonesia, the tradition of masks has been passed down from generation to generation. The shape of the mask is a picture of character or disposition. Masks with sweet characters are used for the gentle king or princess masks, the harsh type or the role of the gallant-king, the fierce type that is scary for giants, the funny type for the role of the king’s retinue, the old type for the role of sages or gods, and so on. The creation of masks is an attempt to describe the typology of certain character traits. In today’s modern system of life, the role of the mask shifts and the shape develops, both in terms of style, size, style, and function. The masks are depictions of ancestors and ceremonial worship of ancestral spirits.
The mask is a symbol of an expression of magical values. Behind all the looks and characters, masks have noble values and moral messages contained in them. But now, traditional Indonesian masks have been considered as works of art, so they are now in great demand. Even art observers say that traditional Indonesian masks are multi-dimensional works of art, namely exotic, spiritual, and magical works of art. When viewed from the various types and characteristics, each type has its own characteristics and characteristics. Below is some of them:
Some Traditional Masks in Indonesia
Cirebon is considered one with the most popular mask design. In parallel to the local story of Cirebon, there are five types of human-shape masks: Panji, Samba or Pamindo, Rumyang, Tumenggung, and Klana. Each type shows unique expressions and features. Sadly, a traditional mask such as the Cirebon mask is on the brink of extinction.
Yogyakarta mask becomes one of the most popular masks in Indonesia many decades ago. It becomes the main accessory of the Wayang Wong traditional dance which is very well known. According to the Wayang Kulit performances, the man and women are wearing masks that are similar to Wayang Kulit’s actor. In Yogyakarta tradition, the mask dance is part of wayang wong performances. Composed and created by Sultan Hamengkubuwono I (1755–1792), certain characters such as the wanara (monkey) and denawa (giant) in Ramayana and Mahabharata use masks, while the knight and princesses do not wear masks. The Punakawan (jester) might use a half-mask (a mask without a jaw) so he can speak freely and clearly. Significantly here, the mustache is painted in black. The Topeng Klono Alus, Topeng Klono Gagah, and Topeng Putri Kenakawulan dances are classical Yogyakarta court dances derived from the story of Raden Panji from the 15th-century Majapahit legacy. The Klono Alus Jungkungmandeya and Klono Gagah Dasawasisa are masked dances adapted from Mahabharata stories.
The topeng of the Surakarta Sunanate court is similar in style and theme to the Yogyakarta variants. Differences are seen in the craftmanship of masks; facial hair is represented with hair or fibre, while the Yogyakarta style uses black paint. Similarly to Yogyakarta, the Sukarta topeng punakawan (jester) often uses a jawless half-mask.
The hudoq mask represents one of the animal spirits central to the ceremonial celebration of the sowing of rice. These spirits were to ensure that the rice spirits were comfortably in the rice paddy and would provide a good harvest. In the Dayak language, hudoq means hornbill bird. These famous masks are worn during agricultural ceremonies and to welcome important guests.
Sidakarya Mask Dance is played by male dancers wearing white masks. His mask is far from a handsome face. His eyes were slanted, his teeth stubbed, his face half human half demon, long shoulder-length hair, and wearing a white veil. Dancers usually carry bokoran containing canang sari, incense, yellow rice, and sekar ura. This is another sacred or holy mask of Bali. The Sidakarya mask is one of the important things of Balinese people’s life, especially in the way of spirituality. The use of the Sidakarya Mask is like a symbol that a ritual or ceremony has been done so well.
These are some types of Indonesian Traditional masks that exist in Indonesia for decades until now. Most of them represent the rich culture of Indonesian Arts. In Kaliuda Gallery, you can also browse and check the antique collection that we’ve curated. We have a wonderful collection with a mix of displays of cultural art from all over the world, especially Indonesia.