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Lot 153, Auction 5/30/2017: Indonesian Wooden Dance Mask - Early Example

Indonesia, Bali or Java, late 19th to early 20th century CE. This is a gorgeous hand carved wood mask painted a sparkingly dark bronze with sensuous lips, a pointed nose, narrowed eyes, black, incised hair, a painted mustache, and three-dimensional details forming a crown atop his head. This is a Topeng -- actually the Indonesian word for mask -- which is worn during the dramatic dances enacted in Bali and to a lesser extent Java that depict traditional stories of kings, princes, heroes, and myths. In these dances, the entire story is performed by only four or five actors playing all the parts, both male and female. As a result, actors will have around forty masks like this one that are only his; there is believed to be a special bond between actor and mask and that when he dons the mask, he enters a kind of trance, connected to the spiritual world. Size: 6.1" W x 8.2" H (15.5 cm x 20.8 cm)

Condition: Wear to paint in high-profile places, but much of it remains and details are clear

Provenance: Ex-Private LA County collection

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