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(H068)

Tembem Comedy Mask from Banyuwangi

95

H068

The people of Banyuwangi in the eastern end of the island of Java call themselves the osing and they have a culture distinct to the mainstream Java and Madura culture of east Java. Historically they were the people of the Blambangan kingdom which was the last Hindu kingdom in Java. Although nowadays most Banyuwangi people embrace Islam there is still much of the older beliefs evident in the arts of the Banyuwangi people.

This mask has the wide cheeks of the character Tembem who is a god clown guardian of Java and he has an act with his partner Pentul. According to legend the two comedians were the clown servants of the last king of Brawijaya. As his successor had embraced Islam the king asked that his two servants do the same but they refused, choosing to leave this world body and all (moksa), promising to return when Javanese are Buddhist once more.

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