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Balinese Mask – Spiritual Force Behind


Bali is an island, which all through the ages has been influenced by many different cultures. Whereas Bali’s non secular root stems from animism and ancestral worship, Hindu mythology and Buddhism have been main influences. Nevertheless, no matter what they have been practising, one issue has at all times remained fixed: “Life in Bali is ruled by faith” . Due to this fact, it comes as no shock that the artwork of masks making derived as a spiritual act, relatively than a quest to create aesthetic magnificence. Masks thus give kind to godly and chthonic forces and are utilized in theatrical performances to show diversifications of Indian Sanskrit Texts . As well as, theatrical masks dances are used for, “planting and harvest celebrations and at instances of transition within the lives of people and communities”. Masks dances, akin to Topeng, additionally talk about politics of the previous and current, and morals. I’ll additional talk about the masked dances in one other part of this text.

Theatre in Bali, Indonesia is greater than a distinguished self-discipline; it’s a efficiency entwined with day by day life. Theatre, like all artwork, is part of the faith and tradition in Bali; thus all Balinese take part in artwork indirectly. Moreover, music, dance, costumes, and drama should not separate entities, however relatively items of Balinese Theatre that depend on one another to attain their final objective: Creating unity and concord between the three worlds. On this article, I’m going to debate Balinese masks and the religious-socio-cultural position they play in Balinese Theatre.

Balinese Beliefs & Mythology

The Bali Hindu faith, the muse of the ordered Balinese society, pervades each facet of life. Bali Hinduism, which has root in Indian Hinduism and in Buddhism, adopted the animistic traditions of the indigenes, who inhibited the island across the first millennium BC. This affect strengthened the assumption that the gods and goddesses are current in all issues. Each factor of nature, subsequently, possesses its personal energy, which displays the facility of the gods. A rock, tree, dagger, or woven material is a possible residence for spirits whose power will be directed for good or evil. Nevertheless, even artwork store masks, these wooden masks made in an unconsecrated assembly-line method to be offered to vacationer, have been recognized to change into possessed. A former director of Bali’s Artwork Middle has a concise clarification: “When you make a lovely residence, somebody will wish to dwell in it.” A fascinating proposition

In accordance with Bali Hinduism, for each constructive precept or constructive drive there may be an equally highly effective harmful forces. These are generally known as forces of the fitting (excessive) and forces of the left (low). The 2 parts ideally coexist in steadiness in order that neither assumes an excessive amount of energy. Sustaining this precarious equilibrium is a continuing preoccupation for the Balinese, who put together day by day choices to satiate the spirits and preserve them beneath management in addition to plead for blessings.

Choices, or banten, fluctuate in accordance with the character of the ceremony and whether or not they’re supposed for a excessive or low spirit. They could encompass mixture of incense, flowers, previous Chinese language cash, material, betel nuts, arak (liquor), holy water, palm-leaf ornament, and meals. The meals will not be truly meant to be eaten by the gods however capabilities as means by which the folks give again what rightfully belongs to the spirits. Essentially the most vital second within the lifetime of providing is its dedication. After that, what occurs to it can be crucial. Consequently, choices to low spirit, that are left on the bottom, are normally scavenged by chickens or canine. The bigger choices to excessive spirits are taken again to the household residence after residing for some time on the temple, and the edible components are then consumed by members of the family.

Balinese temples, embellished with an ornamental show of stones carvings, encompass breezy, open air courtyards, surrounded by a wall and entered via a big break up gate. As soon as inside the doorway is a free standing wall (aling-aling). Past the wall is a big, open space with many small shrines of assorted sizes, every devoted to a distinct god or goddess. At temple festivals, the usually somber shrines are extremely adorned, and worshippers come to wish and dedicate their choices, then retire to speak with buddies. A competition is a extremely social event, culminating in a dwell efficiency of masks dance or puppets introduced for all to enjoy-local villagers and visitors in addition to the spirits of visiting deities and ancestors, and even an occasional vacationers.

The dance and masks dramas which are carried out on the temples as a part of the odalan are thought of vital choices to the god and goddess. The deities could be hesitant to attend any birthday celebration the place there is no such thing as a leisure. A masks dancer makes an providing of his expertise every time he performs, in some instances serving in a capability comparable o a priest. Wali dances, these permitted to happen within the inside sanctum of the temple complicated, are directed towards the deified ancestors, who’re honored visitors, and are usually concerned with spirits relatively than plot, character, or story.

Balinese Masks Efficiency

Masks performances have been vital rituals on the Indonesian island of Bali for over a thousand years. Though many ancients societies used picket masks to rejoice their religions, Bali is without doubt one of the few locations the place the ritual artwork has by no means disappeared and is, in truth, thriving. Wooden carvers are producing extra lovely and extra elaborate wooden masks than ever, and hundreds of individuals worldwide acquire these compelling objects. The proliferation of Balinese artists and efficiency teams signifies that the tiny island is present process a cultural renaissance, the centerpiece of which is the tapel-the lovely Balinese masks.

Masks might symbolize gods, animals, demons, or people and will be entire masks or half masks relying on the dance they’re used for. Masks may also be sacred or non-sacred relying on their objective and preparation. As a result of the magical theatre in Bali has captured the eye of so many foreigners to the land, non-sacred masks are made abundantly on the market. Nevertheless, the most effective of the masks carvers haven’t deserted their calling to create the sacred, consecrated masks after they have a “feeling” to take action.

The Balinese classify the masks of heroes, clowns, and low spirits in accordance with their qualities. The dashing heroes (typically incarnation of gods), lovely queens, and virtuous kings are describe as halus, a Balinese phrase which means “candy,” “mild,” and “refined.” Low spirits, animals, and brutish sorts, together with antagonist kings, are known as keras, or “robust,” “tough,” and “forceful.” There are specific distinctions in between, which normally embody the clowns and servants.

The three sorts of wooden masks utilized in these dramas depict people, animals, and demons. Human-looking masks will be full face or three-quarter face (extending to the higher lip), or can have a movable jaw. They’re anticipated to resemble sure character sorts relatively than particular folks. Heroes and heroines are stereotypically good-looking, with refined options matched b the actions of the dancers. The coarser a personality is, he extra exaggerated the options are: eyes bulge, mouths and noses thicken, and enamel change into fangs. Colour can also be employed to disclose character of masks.

Animal masks are mythological relatively than real looking. Acutely aware of the excellence between people and animal, the Balinese emphasize the distinction by designing animal wooden masks that appear intently associated to demons, even for magically highly effective and god-related animals just 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 may hardly be known as engaging regardless of elaborate crowns and earrings.

Maybe probably the most thrilling wooden masks are these of the witches and what are known as low spirits. The low spirits, who will be troublesome if no appeased, are generally describe by Westeners as demons. That is inaccurate, since low spirits have energy to carry out good deads and supply safety. The Balinese don’t separate the supernatural from the pure. The spirit world is a dwelling drive that have to be acknowledge and appeased via rituals and choices. As a result of the Balinese grant the masks powers that befit their roles and society, the masks of witches and low spirits are the biggest and most grotesque of all conventional masks. The imposing wigs on most of those wooden masks enlarge the pinnacle and stature of the wearer. A basket machine hooked up inside the development holds it to the wearer’s head. For the reason that association is comparatively unstable, dancers typically regular their unwieldy wooden masks whereas they carry out.

In some components of Bali, trance is a frequent a part of ritual; elsewhere, it’s nonexistent. In Calonarang and Barong masks dramas, trance is widespread. The subject material of those dramas is witchcraft, the supernatural, and the battle of constructive and unfavorable forces. The key characters, Durga, the Goddess of Demise as Rangda, and Barong Ket, Lord of the Jungle, battle with each ounce of magical energy they will harness, sometimes assisted by armies.

Kerambitan in southwest Bali is without doubt one of the areas recognized for extremely lively spirits and the frequencies of trance possession. A dancer who as soon as labored as director of Bali’s Artwork Middle tells a narrative concerning the Rangda and Barong masks of Kerambitan, his village: “Our priest had a dream that Rangda and Barong masks have to be a part of the village temple, so we had them created within the prescribed method. As soon as they have been delivered to their temple residence, they started combating with one another whereas they have been inside their baskets. They created a lot noise and rigidity that the masks needed to be separated.” Though the Rangda masks was moved to a different temple, the 2 masks nonetheless fought and the Rangda masks was moved to a different village. On the masks’s birthday, the day they have been each consecrated, they needed to be united within the temple once more. Rangda was introduced from the opposite village, displayed within the ceremony, after which instantly put away.

Balinese Masks With Supernatural Vitality

Masks are considered highly effective receptacles for wandering spirits. A picket masks full of divine power turns into tenget (metaphysically charged). Made out of a selected wooden that’s lower at particular instances, tenget masks are typically related to a sure variety of rituals. Wood masks in a tenget state might lose a few of their particular power over time and have to be “recharged” in a particular ceremony Initiations of renewed or new masks, known as pasupati, can contain as many as ten days of feasting, performances of dance and Wayang Kulit (shadow puppets), cockfights, and processions. A excessive priest is named to officiate the precise second when the “physique” of the wooden masks separates from the “head” (spirit) and the god inhabiting the wooden masks is “despatched residence”. After the newly vitalized masks is returned to the temple, one other set of ceremonies is held to ask the spirit again to the wooden masks. The highly effective masks of Durga, Goddess of Demise and Black magic, and generally known as Rangda is sometimes examined to see if its energy continues to be burning. If explosions of fireside come from the eyes, ears, head, nostril, or mouth of the masks, it’s thought of sakti (sacred or highly effective). It’s positioned within the village cemetery in the course of the evening throughout an particularly auspicious time known as Kanjeng Kliwon Pamelastali, a robust time when spirits are current and have to be acknowledge with choices.

Sacred wooden masks are by no means displayed on partitions as artworks as in Western houses, however are saved in easy material luggage with drawstring tops. The colour of the bag is important-whether yellow, white, or black-and-white checked-because coloration symbolism impacts the spirit of the wooden masks. As soon as encased within the luggage, the wooden masks are positioned in baskets, which in flip are saved inside the temple complicated. If a wooden masks belongs to a person, it should most likely be saved contained in the household temple. Sacred wooden masks are solely displayed for his or her birthdays, which shall be aside of an odalan, or temple competition. Dancers unveil their wooden masks when commissioned to carry out at an odalan. Solely not often is a wooden masks uncovered so as to be reconditioned: the paint refreshed, worm holes crammed, and gold leaf touched up. That is by no means completed casually, however at the side of elaborate rituals.

Masks comprised of the identical tree are felt to have household ties. When a tree produce a knot like progress, it’s known as beling, which suggests “pregnant.” Care is taken to not harm the tree, and when the lower is made, a particular ceremony is held to appease the spirits of the tree. If these rituals should not adopted, a spiritually highly effective tree might use its power to trigger destruction. In Singapudu village, residence of two Bali’s most famous woodcarvers, wooden is now not taken from an particularly tenget tree that grows on the fringe of the village. Two monks carried out the requisite ceremonies earlier than eradicating wooden, however inside per week each died of mysterious causes.


By way of this temporary examination of Balinese Masked Performances, it turns into clear that the weather of theatre, the story, the masks, the efficiency, are all particular and require a lot preparation. Balinese masks which are utilized in non secular ceremonies have nice concentrations of energy and, subsequently, have to be handled very fastidiously. Woodcarving masks utilized in conventional dance and drama performances, even when not sacred, additionally should not be dealt with casually

It helps to know that to the Balinese, there may be not the identical differentiation that we within the West make between animate and inanimate objects. Every thing incorporates spirit. When you think about that a few of the woodcarving masks symbolize evil spirits, akin to Rangda, queen of the witches, or that some symbolize gods or legendary protectors, such because the Barong, it’s a huge accountability to put on these woodcarving masks and mix with these powers. That is normally completed both in ceremonies or as a part of appearing out the good dramas that derive largely from historical Hindu epics. In Bali, it’s customary that the dramas will finish with neither facet “successful” out over the opposite – as an alternative, there’s a restoration of the concord between the great and evil forces, which, in accordance with Balinese perception, have to be saved in steadiness.

When somebody from the West places on a masks, he is normally pretending to be another person. However in Bali when somebody places on masks, particularly a sacred masks, he turns into another person. The masks has a life drive – a religious magic. A sacred masks is taken into account to be actually alive, and when the performer places it on, the masks’s energy additionally enters his physique. The Balinese world is full of magical energy. Objects that we as westerners would usually contemplate to be devoid of the flexibility to exert affect on different objects or folks to them might possess a mystical drive.

By analyzing the craftsmanship of those masks, it’s crystalline why Bali is famed for its lovely masks and masked dance efficiency. To see a varied Wooden Carving Masks & Sculpture from Bali, please go to : []

Source by Alexander Halim

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