As a multi-cultural nation, Indonesia has many local languages​​. In Indonesia, the term kedok, tapel, tapuk, toping, topeng, partapukan and many other terms used to refer to the concept of the mask. Equal with the number of terms to mask, its variation in Indonesia is numeruous.

Dadung mask from Bali

When traced by its history, in this case is closely related to the history of religion in Indonesia, the mask was originally used as a means of ritual offerings. At the early period, the Indonesian embraced dynamism-animist beliefs. The mask was the embodiment of ancestral spirits. Mask was a means of communication between people who were still living with their ancestors. When dry season, they ask for rain to their ancestors or gods. Also at harvest time, they showed their gratitude.

Cirebon's mask dancing

In Cirebon - West Java mask dancing grew out of a magical ceremony to honor ancestors in the Ngunjung ceremony, the ceremony honoring ancestors with the mask dancing to invoke blessings of the great-great-great-grandparents or ancestors at their sacred graves.


In Bali, there are some sacred and ritual dances called wali. One of them is Barong dance. Usually its dancers is a selected person with some specific qualifications. In the Barong dance, the dancers use masks as the representation of a god coming down from the sky to eliminate all diseases on earth.


Hudoq dance from Borneo (Kalimantan) uses woodden mask as its main properties. With hornbill feather on the top of the mask, its imitate a beast. The body part is made of banana leaf. This dance is closely related with people of Dayak Bahau and Modang. Hudoq dance is intended to gain strength in overcoming the destructive pests and hoping for soil fertility also, of course, a plenty amount of harvest.

Dayak's traditional mask from Kalimantan

When Islam and Christianity came to Indonesia, their influence was getting stronger and widely spread, dinamism and animism slowly reduced or even vanished. The spirit-summoning ritual using mask dancing no longer performed. In some occasion, it performed in a more secular purpose.

Extremely huge mask of Reog from Ponorogo, East Java (imagine! how to wear such a heavy mask on your face)
Didik Nini Thowok, a traditional dance maestro

Some mask dancing now become an art performance. There are mask dancing is purely created for art performance. The story of the dance often taken from classic literature or folklore. Didik Nini Thowok is a great artist who develop a new mask dancing by combining some lokal dance styles in Indonesia. Mask dancing can be done by anyone, anywhere and anytime. But.... again, not all mask dances turn into art performance, Barong dance from Bali, still has its unique sacred value and strict rules in its performance.
That's it.... a small description about so many mask cultures in Indonesia. Each local culture has its own local value.

... and these are some more .......

Mask from Simalungun, North Sumatra

Pithek Walik mask of Central Java, it describes a chicken

Kalingkoet Talino mask of West Kalimantan

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