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Balinese Mask Cabochon in Carved Bone

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This Balinese Mask Cabochon with its protruding teeth has been carved in bone, replicating one I saw carved in stone in a hotel wall in Ubud, Bali's art and culture capital.

Sure, he's not the most handsome of fellows but weird distorted features are a common feature of Balinese masks and stone carvings so he's a good cultural representation.

It's hard to go past the teeth but the mask also features closed eyes set either side of a flattened nose and this character is wearing an udang, the traditional headdress that Balinese men and boys wear for ceremonial and festive occasions.

This chunky piece was carved in Tampaksiring, home of Bali's best carves of bone, shell and horn.

You can see more weirdness here - http://www.etsy.com/shop/Indounik/search?search_query=weird&search_submit=&search_type=user_shop_ttt_id_6011725&shopname=Indounik

Size: Approx 25mm (L) x 25mm (W)
Thickness: Approx 7mm
Weight: Approx 5 grams
Pieces per pack: 1
Material: Bovine bone - cattle bone - smooth-backed but slightly hollowed, following the line of the bone
Colour: White, ivory, or cream colour, depending on the bone used to create the piece
Shipping: This item will ship from Bali via Pos Indonesia registered mail with a tracking number, and you will almost certainly have to sign for it upon delivery. Please see more Shipping and Policies via the link above.

Storytelling using masks is believed to date back at least 1000 years in Indonesia.

The word “topeng” means mask in Bahasa Indonesia and refers to traditional dance dramas in which one or more of the performers wears a mask.

Topeng dance-theatre is prevalent in Bali, neighbouring Java, and the island of Madura, east of Java.

In Bali it's performed as part of temple celebrations and ritual occasions, and for tourists to showcase the island's rich performing arts history.

Often, a pajegan - a solo dancer-actor - will tell an entire story by assuming a variety of different masked character-types, mixing high comedy with an intense realisation of cosmic power.

The best performers are praised for their taksu, a Balinese word that is difficult to translate but which infers an ability to mediate between sacred forces and the human audience.

"This world is a house of mask, Goddess of mercy and God of salvation, for those who tremble with fear, for those who fail to secure, for those who pray too much, put on your masks..." ~ Baha Zain, Malaysian poet and winner of the 1980 South East Asian (S.E.A) Write Award.

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Balinese Mask Cabochon in Carved Bone