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The history of tribal Bali masks is indeed an interesting one.  For starters, these masks come in a number of different forms, having been used for thousands of years.  Although masks have evolved over the years, most of them are the primitive masks used for tribal ceremonies. 

Typically, these masks are made from wood.  However, depending on the specific region where they come from, they are made from a number of materials.  The goal of the Bali tribal mask is to scare off evil spirits, sickness, or to prevent natural disasters such as famine, drought, and floods. 

Interestingly, in Bali, the Mask Dance is one of the oldest performing arts known to man.  This dance was first developed north of Java and by the 16th Century, growing dramatically in popularity.  Throughout Indonesia, you will find all types of masks, some of which are worn for funerals, some for initiation rites, and some for exorcism rituals. 

Amazingly, many area of Bali to include Batak, Maluku, and Timor still believe strongly in the power of the mask and continue to use them today.  It is believed that the Death Mask was actually one of the original forms made and used as a way of offering anonymity to performers.  As the mask was worn, it created a more realistic presentation of the performer as he portrays being a god, demon, or ancestor. 

Another type of mask from Bali is the Court Mask, which is made from wood, then beautifully painted using gouache, and often enhanced with gems or studs.  Many primitive masks are still being found in areas of Indonesia around Kalimantan, Sulawesi, and Bali, including some that can be identified as ceremonial, funeral, and dance masks. 

Considering that 17,000 islands exist in Indonesia, you can only imagine the incredible findings.  In fact, museums around the world now proudly display ancient tribal masks, some that are very valuable.


 

Bali, the Island Paradise The History of Bali, Indonesia
 
Bali Dot Mask
Carved Wood Mask
Bali Bird Mask
Batik Mask
Hell King Mask
 
 

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