Ideology behind Balinese Masks

Category : Adventure | Posted On Apr 09, 2020

As the tourism increased in Bali, the demand for cheap souvenirs also increased. Which also made it easy to find the traditional masks of RangdaBarong, and other mask characters at cheaper prices but of course with compromised quality.

In Mas Village of Ubud, Ida Bagus Anom Suryawan is one of the many mask makers and carvers but with an aim of not to make cheap quality compromised masks. For such mask carvers "Quality is far more important than quantity".  A simple belief that if every one is going to focus on pleasing the market then who will take the responsibility of maintaining the authenticity of mask craft? These masks are a main part of the cultural arts, ceremonies in Bali and the life of Mas Village as well.

His six generations before him have pursued this beautiful life of Balinese sculptors and artists. Anom started as early as when he was 9 years old and grew up with mastering the art with the advise of his father. Ida Bagus Made Geria, Anom’s father, always said that to make a mask, you must learn and be able to dance with it. Because, when we dance, we will move and create the motion that matches the mask character. You know how your body will move, how the mask will move and understand every detail that only mask dancers know. Those details are the power to create the mask.

One masks easily take one month to craft it from the scratch. It starts by forming the Waru or Suar wood, with painting up to around 25 layers of colors by adding gold, silver, goat hair that are used for the hair and eye brows for the mask depending on the character.

The character of the masks can be observed through different things like the Sidakarya mask which is normally made for the ceremony will require the sculptor to craft is as close as possible to the original character. However if you look in details you'll always see a signature of the artist left behind, it will somehow have a similarity to the sculptor's face. 

This signature is also found in paintings such as Prince Diponegoro’s painting by Raden Saleh, the painter making his ‘imprint’ on the faces of the escorting soldiers who all resemble Raden Saleh himself.

Anom took a a proper puppetry field at Indonesian Art College before being a sculptor in 90s. He later on became a bartender and then resumed his journey to being an artist and a mask carver till this day.

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