The masks you have seen from Bali fall into two categories, those that are employed for the Topeng and those used for ritual and religious performances in which a Rangda and a Barong Ket mask are used. Besides having an entertainment value for those who watch the characters they depict in action, they also serve a practical purpose to the Balinese. Discuss some of the masks and the characters they depict and the way they are employed to serve ritual and religious purposes in Balinese society.

In the Balinese society, some of the masks and the characters they depict function to serve multiple roles. Some are for entertainment while others are solely for ritual and religious performances. For instance, in the film Bali: Mask of Rangda, the people of the village carry the sacred masks to the ceremony area. A particular mask that carries high importance is the Barong Ket. It is known as the destroyer of evil, because it keeps evil spirits out of the villages. This mask had a mythological nature with animalistic characteristics. The villagers view it as guard dogs but it has a beard that would be dipped in holy water to protect them. Through meditation and prayer along with the use of the mask, the people of the village conjure up the spirit of cooperation to defeat the demonic forces.

For the Topeng performances, masks are also significant in this genre. The documentary we viewed in class filmed by Dr. Richmond, showed how the performers and citizens would assembled in a village/ festival like setting surrounded by lema to show that a ritual was taking place. One of the important masks worn by the leading Topeng performer is a full-face mask and the costume forces the shoulders to be in an upright position. The performer has stylized gestures throughout the ritual in order to celebrate and request blessings from the gods and ancestors. Although there was a lot of flexibility, there was structure because ritual was key.

Performances in Bali
Films: Bali: Mask of Rangda and the documentary filmed by Dr. Richmond
Class lecture notes
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