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Topeng - Burung Nuri - parrot

20 cm long x 16 cm wide x 12 cm deep  


The stand is included with the mask


This Topeng mask is from Muntilan, Central Java, Indonesia. It is part of the dance called Lenggeran (from Wanasaba) and depicts the Lenggeran culture ann was used by a local dance company. The Burung is one of many characters that are used and the dance is performed on the road in the village and not on a stage. The dance is performed during the rice season harvest festival.

Topeng - Burung Nuri - parrot

$175.00 Regular Price
$131.25Sale Price

  • Java is the home of several mask theatre and dance traditions, which are commonly referred to as wayang topeng (wayang: shadow or puppet; topeng: mask).

    The earliest known literary reference to wayang topeng is from 1058, and mask theatre is believed to have been very popular in the kingdoms of East Java over the following centuries.

    Balinese topeng came about in the seventeenth century, when a new form of dance-drama was created for masks inherited from East Java. The old masks are still revered to such a degree that they are very rarely used and may not be photographed. The oldest mask sets are revered because of their sanctity and like old theatrical costumes they are passed on as family heirlooms.

    Wayang wong (wayang: shadow, puppet; wong: man) dance-drama was created at the turn of the 19th century when the king of Klungkung wished to use his old, inherited masks in a new form of theatre based on the Ramayana.

    Monkeys have a central role in wayang wong. In Bali, monkeys have been revered as guardian spirits, and they have been the inspiration for many theatrical creatures, combining monkey features with elements of other animals, such as tigers or even birds. The monkeys’ pantomime-like gestures add a special flavor to the movements employed in wayang wong.

    Topeng can be described as a Balinese chronicle play with plots relating to the island’s history, ancient kings, ministers, and court intrigues.

    There are two types of topeng. Topeng paiegan (paiegan: offering), also known as topeng wali, is performed by a single actor as a kind of monodrama, which is still regarded as having a profound magical-religious meaning. The performer is at the same time a priest and an actor. In the latter capacity he displays considerable virtuosity, changing his character and movements according to the masks used in the play.

    The one-man topeng is still performed in various rituals, such as the filing of teeth, weddings, and funerals. In the historically younger topeng panca five actors appear. In both types, the action consists of a series of stock scenes presented in predictable order.

    Two main traditions of topeng developed: the impressive dance-drama of the court, and the village traditions, which still contain ancient shamanistic elements. Throughout the history of topeng, the “major” court traditions and the “minor” village traditions have been in a constant state of interaction.

    For dramatic action, the main mask types are the refined (alus), white-faced king (dalem), his white-faced consort, the strong large-eyed antagonist king, and a number of strong minister characters with face color ranging from cream to grey and red. A comic touch is added by several grotesque clown masks, often portrayed as suffering from physical defects.

    Full-length topeng performances have become rare, but topeng dance numbers are still often presented. Popular items of the repertoire are the introductory dances of Prince Panji and Princess Candra Kirana, allowing them to display their respective psychological qualities with classical dance patterns. The decreased popularity of mask theatre is usually explained by the spread of Islam.

    When the Central Javanese Mataram kingdom was divided into two in 1755, it was the kraton of Surakarta that inherited the ancient wayang topeng tradition of Mataram and its old masks. In Yogyakarta, wayang wong, which developed in the late eighteenth century, replaced the spectacular mask theatre performances of the court, but the old mask sets are still revered in the kraton as royal pusaka heirlooms.

    Topeng mostly thrives in Sunda in West Java, where Cirebon with its small kraton has been the traditional centre of topeng. Alongside the court performances, the villages around Cirebon still have their own vital mask traditions. The folk forms of topeng include topeng batavia, a relaxed variant of topeng with a lot of elements of slapstick comedy. It has been performed in the area of the capital, Jakarta.

    In all parts of Java, the topeng masks share the aesthetics based on the iconography of the wayang kulit and particularly wayang golek puppets. Carved out of wood they also resemble, however, the faces of the three-dimensional wayang golek puppets. Their stylization is almost abstract, and the oval masks in downward tapering form are usually slightly smaller than a human face. The faces of the noble characters are taut, narrowing towards a delicate chin, and the noses are sharply ridged and pointed. The eyes are elongated, and the mouths are small. Strong characters, such as King Klana, wear energetic masks with upturned noses and wide-open, round eyes. The color symbolism is the same as in the wayang golek puppets: noble characters have white or golden masks, although Prince Panji’s mask is usually green. The masks of the strong characters, like King Klana, are usually red.


    Asian Traditional Theatre and Dance ISBN 978-952-7218-23-5© 2018 Theatre Academy of the University of the Arts Helsinki

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