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A pair of rare and unusual minimalist masks

A pair of rare and unusual minimalist masks (abbreviated, covering only part of the face) are very archaic (and old) “penasar” or ORATOR masks from “gambuh” or “bondres” Balinese ritual drama performances. They would have been used by the characters who linked the more “remote/elite” characters in the drama, with the audience. The characters who spoke and sang and explained and commented on what was taking place within the masked, musical drama. These dramas usually enacted noble histories, conflicts, genealogies, or potent tales of poignant, magical, crisis situations (like myths, folk tales, but more “charged”) which are part of the repertoire of Balinese literature and drama . . . often involving magic, intrigue and espionage, malevolent or greedy and deceptive characters . . . and usually some romance as well. This pair is certainly very old, 19th century or earlier. The forms of performance which used these masks are largely extinct, or exist in vestigial forms, or reconstructed forms only. Carved wood with thin iron plates representing mustache. The left metal mustache of the right mask is missing.

13.5 x 25 x 13.5 cm

12.5 x 19 x 12.5 cm

WO00037

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