Balinese masks are of ancient origin and act like lightning rods in the sense that they attract the spirit of the person to be portrayed. They are sacred.
The Balinese believe that living masks can provide inspiration for the wearer, whether a dancer or an actor. The plot of the play or dance comes from the mask. In other words, as the Balinese say, the mask “speaks”.
Masks are used in dance and drama performances and are treated with a great deal of respect.
They represent the faces of gods, heroes and revered persons. Masks are put on the head, the most sacred part of the body, and never on the ground.
Masks take many forms. They are usually carved from a softwood called “pule”. Endless sanding and at least 40 coats of paint achieve a striking surface.
They are usually kept out of sight, wrapped inside a box, which is often covered with a white cloth.