Balinese masks are incredibly unique and memorable, making them perfect for tattoo designs. They’re traditionally used and worn during Topeng, a dramatic form of Indonesian dance where performers wear ornate masks and costumes while interpreting traditional tales and folklore alongside gamelan music.
Many people associate the masks with Hinduism and Buddhism but, while many are used to represent spiritual beings and symbolism, use of the masks actually predates both religions. Nowadays, dozens of tourists purchase these masks as souvenirs to remember their trip to the Indonesian archipelago, but they’re also still used by native Indonesian tribes to perform traditional masked-dances to this day.
There are dozens of different dances and masks that represent a variety of beings, from nature itself to long deceased kings that have passed on into legend. A proper, sacred Balinese mask can take four months to make and cost hundreds of dollars, while proper tourist versions of the same masks tend to take around two months to make and cost a lot less. The different being the use of natural materials versus man-made materials, although both are typically made by hand.
The wide variety of interpretations and meanings coupled with the spiritual and often fierce designs make Balinese mask tattoos quite popular. They designs are quite versatile and can be paired easily with various other forms of imagery to create something unique that you can rest assured no one else has.
Much like the masks themselves, these tattoos are often one-of-a-kind. The amount of detailed involved in getting a Balinese mask tattoo often makes it appealing to wide variety of people whether it’s colored or not, although coloring something so detailed is much more challenging to sit through and expensive – granted, it’s clearly well worth the time and money.
Check out the Balinese mask tattoos below for some spiritual inspiration from the Indonesian region.