Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

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4 / Ceremony and Society

Barong Mask
Barong Mask
Artist / Origin Balinese artist, Indonesia
Region: Oceania
Date Early to mid-20th century
Material Wood, leather, twine, wire, hair, mirrors, pigment
Medium: Other
Dimensions H: 12 ¼ in. (31 cm.), W: 18 1/8 in. (46 cm.), D: 10 ¼ in. (26 cm.)
Location Fowler Museum, UCLA, Los Angeles, CA
Credit Courtesy of the Fowler Museum at UCLA

expert perspective

Roy W. HamiltonCurator for Asian and Pacific Collections, Fowler Museum at UCLA

Barong Mask

» Balinese artist, Indonesia

expert perspective

Roy W. Hamilton Roy W. Hamilton Curator for Asian and Pacific Collections, Fowler Museum at UCLA

The Barong is a spirit guardian of a Balinese village. It takes the form of a mask that’s danced by two people. If you were watching such a performance, it might just look like a dance performance to you, but it’s actually very serious religious ritual. And the community gathers to observe it. And very typically, at the climax of the dance, a spiritual presence enters the dancer.

It certainly brings the entire community together. The ceremony is held in one of the temples in the community. These temples are essentially obligatory membership groups for the people of the community who donate time and donate financial support to maintain the temple and to maintain the Barong mask itself.

If you go into Balinese communities today, you’ll see beautiful, beautiful masks, many of them made in relatively recent times because there is this sacred obligation to keep up this tradition and to honor the Barong.” 

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