Among the many popular activities in Bangkok, shopping is a favorite among most tourists and we were no exception! There are many stores and street shops selling clothes, art, crafts and curios. Women squealed in delight as they found their dream outfit for the night out, men were immersed in browsing through a variety of tech products. A colorful store where the products had made their way into the street’s exterior beckoned to us. The first few minutes were just a feast for the senses, there were beautiful abstract paintings, sculptures, figurines, dolls, masks, rugs and a shop full of kitsch. The ornately carved wooden masks caught my eye, I imagined they would make a great addition to my home decor.
I initially presumed the masks were locally made in Thailand, it was only later that I came to understand they were made in Bali and popularly known as Balinese masks. The philosophy behind the mask is that every element has a soul, including the mask created. These masks represent various mythological characters, many of which are from the Hindu religious texts such as the Ramayan. There are also strong influences of Buddhism. These masks were used to narrate stories of life, of kings and the triumphs of good against evil.
The masks are typically made from wood. Craftsmen in even the remotest parts of Bali are adept with the knife and sculpt staggering pieces of art. Intricate drawings and shading is also seen on the finished masks. The prominent colours used are Red (symbolising courage), Yellow (wisdom), White (purity), Green (peace) and Black (ambitious). These masks were used in dramas, dances and as protective charms, today they look great as elements of home decor.
The masks adorn a prominent space in our home and we are pleasantly reminded of our travels, every time we stop to admire them. What I would love is to visit Bali and sit through the actual making of some these expressive masks. 🙂