**First Time At Auction**
Southeast Asia, Indonesia, Bali, ca. early 20th century CE. A carved wooden mask depicting a character from the Indonesian dance drama known as Topeng, a spectacular performance in which one or more dancers don masks and present ancient tales, usually about ancient or mythical heroes or kings. This example features a bold visage presenting a neutral grey complexion, bulging eyes with slits beneath, arched brows with a tiny 'flame' set between, a protruding nose, an open mouth - smiling and revealing teeth covered with shell, perhaps abalone or mother of pearl given their iridescence - this dramatic face surmounted by a decorative headband/crown adorned with carved diamond-shaped and round appliques featuring carvings of floral motifs. Size: 5.25" W x 7.5" H (13.3 cm x 19 cm)
The Topeng dances originated in the 17th century and have traditionally been most prevalent in Java and Bali. This said, the dance is also performed in other Indonesian islands. The word "topeng" translates as mask in Indonesian. Topeng performances begin with a sequence of dancing, non-speaking masked characters that may or may not be directly related to the story being told. The use of masks is believed to have its root in the cult of the ancestors which regarded dancers as sacred interpreters of the gods. A very intriguing example!
Provenance: ex-Adeon Gallery, Chicago, Illinois, USA acquired prior to 1970
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