Expo Zaragoza : Parade of Magical Masks at the Indonesia Pavilion

Out of the many items that attracted visitors’ imagination in the Indonesia Pavilion are the masks. Many asked the same questions : what do they represent, whose masks are they, are they for sale ?
By: Liya Djajadisastra
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Expo Zaragoza
Indonesia Pavilion
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jakarta - dki jakarta - Indonesia

Aug. 1, 2008 - PRLog -- For many staff  in the Pavilion, the questions are not too difficult to explain.  The problem is to rationalize the story to European public.

There are 2 types of masks on show, i.e.  Balinese and Javanese masks.  Both have their own peculiarities and are placed side-by-side.   Each one is significantly different in appearance.   According to Wagiono Sunarto, the curator of the Indonesia Pavilion, the Balinese pieces are natural, the appearance are like human’s.  On the other hand, the Javanese masks are more stylized, they do not look immediately like the actual face, the nose and mouths are usually distorted.
“Pajegan” masks of Bali are worn in a series of folks dance-drama in Bali island.  Players-dancers are doing the role of a princess, a prince, an old man, a bad guy, a story teller and the rest are called “Bodres” or clowns.  This is a story of kings in Bali.
The Javanese masks are copies of those worn in a similar dance-drama in Central Java called Panji Semirang.  The legend consists of a handsome prince called Panji Asmara Bangun who fell in love with a beautiful princess named Putri Sekartaji.  Their love story is always disturbed by a red-faced monster called Pangeran Sabrang (note : ‘Sabrang’ means foreigner), indicating that a foreign prince is probably bad guy.  To complete the folklore there are two clowns with black and white faces.  This is a never ending story which -as many folk tales in the region that are heavy with moral messages-  teaches us that good and bad are always present in our life and winning the fight is an enduring endeavor.
And what does the matter have got to do with ‘Reassessment of Tradition, Art, Culture and Identity related to Water’ as is required by the Organizing Committee of Expo Zaragoza ?  Our curator just smiled and replied : ‘They are all tradition, art and culture of Indonesia, although not related to water.  We want to show that Indonesian culture is rich and unique.”

What about the sale and proceed of the sale of those masks ?  They are all intended to be donated to museums and galleries around Zaragoza after the Expo ends in September.  This way the masks and related legends will be alive for many years to come and Spanish public may remember these as token of friendship from some folks far away in the Orient.  For now visitors must feel sufficient with purchases of miniature masks in the form of key rings, sold at the pavilion.

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Republic Indonesia's exhibits of sustainable water resources at the Expo Zaragoza themed "Water for Life : Reassessment of Tradition, Art, Culture and Identity related to Water".
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