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Indonesian Topeng Mask - Meticulously Carved & Painted

Southeast Asia, Indonesia, Central Java, ca. late 19th to early 20th century CE. A striking mask carved from a lightweight wood, most likely Mentaok wood, representing a character from the Indonesian dance drama known as Topeng, a wondrous performance in which one or more dancers don masks and present ancient tales, usually about mythical heroes or kings. This example is especially dramatic with its expressive visage comprised of bulging eyes, a long upturned nose, mustache, and open mouth showing gold teeth. Upon his jet black wavy coiffure which contrasts with his pale yellow complexion is an elaborate crown, meticulously carved and painted in hues of gold, yellow, white, black, and green and featuring a pair of bird heads to each side. The Topeng dances originated in the 17th century and have traditionally been most prevalent in Java and Bali. This said, the dance is also performed in other Indonesian islands. The word "topeng" translates as mask in Indonesian. Topeng performances begin with a sequence of dancing, non-speaking masked characters that may or may not be directly related to the story being told. The use of masks is believed to have its root in the cult of the ancestors which regarded dancers as sacred interpreters of the gods. A spectacular example! Size: 5.25" L x 6.75" W x 8" H (13.3 cm x 17.1 cm x 20.3 cm)

Provenance: Ex-Nikotovich collection acquired before 1980

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