Friday, July 30, 2010

Bali: Days 15-16

Monday, July 11, 2010:

On Monday afternoon I began what was going to be a series of afternoons studying mask-making with a master mask maker in Mas.  (Wow, what an alliteration!)  It was incredible to see him make the mask blanks with a chunk of wood and a hatchet.

He was able to see what the final mask would look like even before he began working on it and he offered us all ample assistance as we awkwardly chiseled and hacked away at our shapeless forms.

The humble beginnings of my mask
He would advise us as to where to do more work, he would draw lines to show us the countours of the face, and more than once would take the masks and work on them himself.

Stabilizing the mask with his feet
He was a very patient and tolerant man, very quiet, and very good at what he does.  I was surprised that he allowed us to come into his home, make a mess, misuse his tools, and then repeat it all again the next day.

My mask at the end of the day
I am very thankful for his kindness and I'm anxious to see what my finished mask will look like!

Tuesday, July 12, 2010:

Tuesday was another fieldtrip for the summer program.  We traveled to the village of Tunjuk a little over an hour northwest of Pengosekan where I was staying.  One of our teachers lives in the village and we went to listen to his gamelan perform (again, a variety of gamelan that none of us had heard before.  It was, in fact, a mix of several different kinds to create something completely new).

One of the pieces they performed for us included three singers.  One of our program directors was one of the singers and she has such a quiet voice, but when she started singing, everything else went away and I was entirely consumed by her voice and entranced the entire time.  I have never heard a voice so beautiful and almost otherworldy.  Watching her it was as if she too was not aware of her surroundings and she stared off in the distance, as if her song was coming from a far off place.  She had a very nice quote in her singing, as well, "Kindness, one act of kindness, is the seen of a Banyon tree."  and we've all seen how big and mighty a Banyon tree can get, right?

We went on a walk through the rice paddies of Tunjuk that afternoon to see our teacher's land.

It was so beautiful to be walking through a landscape of terraced rice fields in all shades of green while forests of palm trees lined the horizon.

We eventually ventured down a path leading into one such forest and it led us to a temple in the middle of the vegetation - a hidden gem tucked in among the trees.

The temple

We stopped at the temple and prayed before continuing on to the final portion of our Tunjuk trip.

We walked back to our teacher's land in the middle of nowhere where a bale (bah-lay - essentially a roofed platform) sat while a pair of rindik/tingklik players entertained us with their music.

While some sat to listen to the mis and improvize dance along with the little girls, others went to gamble and play cards on the other side of the bale.  Fresh coconuts with straws were passed around and we all drank its sweet water while enjoying the spectacle of a cock fight (no animals were actually injured).


I couldn't keep myself from thinking that this must be exactly what a gypsy camp must have been like.  A group of people getting together and having fun with food, music, dance, games, and a fight or two.  Soon it was time to say our goodbyes and head back to Pengosekan for the evening.  What a fun day!

Obama!  Carved by Ida Bagus Oka, the master mask maker


  1. Gosh. Did you ever feel like royalty?

  2. Mask making is something I've always been fascinated by, ever since we had that lesson in class about halus/manis and keras masks. I wonder what kind of wood he uses for them. The master mask maker from Mas.. I am also almost tempted to write a limerick!
    great post P.

  3. Looks like you got to partake of more beautiful scenery. I'm jealous...

    That Obama statue is impressive. Can't wait to see how your mask turned out!