Topeng is a tremendously popular form in Bali, as it relates local lore
and historical tales concerning the royal lineages in scenes of everyday
life. Topeng is also very entertaining, as the use of humor and clowns
in extensive. "Topeng" means mask and the mask dance relates
the tales of Balinese and Javanese ancestors returning temporarily to
inhabit the mask.
All actors in Topeng dramas are masked. Nowadays, the main stories, with
their princes and clowns, are preceded by a set of solo mask dances for
men - the "topeng keras", or dance of the strong warrior",
the "topeng tua" - a fantastic dance showing the advance of
old age in the king's old counsellor, and the "topeng dalem"
showing the king in all his glory with enough clowns to fill a circus.
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