The Setia Darma House of Masks and Puppets is a interesting museum you should visit, in Sukawati Bali, housing over 1,300 masks and 5,700 puppets from Indonesia, Europe, China, Africa and Latin America.
Sukawati, which is more unknown than the cultural hub of Ubud, does not get the attention that it deserves, even though they also offer beautiful rice terrace walks, Barong Kris shows, and this culturally significant House of Masks and Puppets.
In a complex of Balinese bales and Javanese joglos, Setia Darma preserves some of the world’s most colorful pieces of art with each house displaying different collections of masks and puppets.
Each piece in the collection is accompanied by detailed description, so that visitors can learn about their function in a particular culture, from the contemporary to the ancient and sacred. It’s a great educational experience for any age.
The museum sits in a beautifully manicured landscape with tropical gardens and rice fields in the backdrop.
The first joglo you come to houses traditional shadow puppets along with contemporary figurines, including one of Barack Obama.
The walls of this joglo are covered with other pieces, from the Ramayana and Mahabharata Hindu tales, Sicilian stick puppets from the 16th century and marionettes reminiscent of Pinocchio, together with intricate 18th century Bunraku idols from Japan.
In the second house you come to are the iconic Indonesian puppets. The shadow puppets, locally known as Wayang Kulit, are normally performed by a Dalang (puppet master) during Balinese Hindu ceremonies to celebrate rites of passage.
The characters draw similarities from great Hindu tales, and convey words of wisdom and lessons of good conduct to audiences.
Inside the third house are a variety of traditional and sacred masks, while the fourth house contains more contemporary pieces, collected from local craftsmen. All beautiful in their own ways, and with different stories.
Local Balinese puppets and masks are in the fifth house, including the intricately carved masks and full-body costumes of the Barong and Rangda, which put on shows you definitely want to see while in Bali.
The Setia Darma House of Masks and Puppets in Sukawati was mentioned in our top 101 Things to do in Bali list, and is definitely a unique and educational experience that not enough people know about!
Whatever your interest, there is always something interesting happening in Bali!
If you want to see more of the mask and puppet museum, check out this video we found online, which shows a lot of the coo pieces.