TITLE: Topeng Bondres
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Asia
DESCRIPTION: Bondres Mask
CEREMONY: Topeng Dance Drama; Barong Performance
AGE: ca. 1980s
MAIN MATERIAL: pule wood
OTHER MATERIALS: paint
The Topeng dance drama is an important traditional entertainment and education on the island of Bali, Indonesia. Its origin can be traced to the oral history of the Balinese people and venerable palm-leaf written histories, influenced by Hinduism imported from India. The dance may have originated as early as 840 CE. The stories depicted in this drama, called Babad Dalem, tell a political history of the islands of Bali and Java as written by the court poets of the regional kings.
This specific mask represents a class of clownish characters known as bondres. The bondres character typically wears a half mask or an articulated full mask strapped to the head to allow for speaking or singing. Unlike most Balinese masks, which portray stock characters, many bondres characters are unique representations of village types portrayed by the actor who owns the mask.
For more on Balinese masks, see Judy Slattum, Masks of Bali: Spirits of an Ancient Drama (San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 1992).