Bali Getaway Part 4 : Setia Darma House of Mask and Puppets

9:03:00 PM

Hellowww :D...

Warning first: A very photo heavy post! But it's very interesting (at least for me) so i hope nobody run away after reading the warning :p. 

As you might already know by now, me and my hunny are real tourists at heart, even when we travel to a very familiar destination like Bali (i cannot count how many times i've been to Bali already!), if it it's up to us we'd be searching for less-known (or at least, less local-touristy. Because most local tourists prefer to dwell in Kuta, you know shopping and all. Or maybe just go to the obvious destinations like Sangeh, Tampak Siring, Bedugul, Tanah Lot, etc. I find international tourists are more adventurous and love to explore Bali a lot more than a local would) destinations, and since we're big museum lovers (as well as Baby Boy, in fact he was the one who suggested us to go to a museum in the first place) we've been googling for an interesting museum to visit.

We're no art lovers *fact is we cannot stare at one painting for more than a few seconds without getting bored* and most of the museums in Bali are art *as in painting. I think i like sculpture a bit better than painting, as ignorant as it might sound* museum so we kept on searching for other ones (actually i was pretty interested to visit Antonio Blanco's museum just because i am intrigued by the flamboyant late artist, but since most of his paintings depicts errr... clothe-less women... I don't think it's suitable for 6 year olds..) and i stumbled into this Setia Darma House of Mask and Puppets.
Photo taken by Baby Boy so please excuse the awkward angle :p
Now, i'm not much a of a mask fan, but i like puppets (and dolls) a lot. The creepier they are, the better. So after seeing a few pictures of the place online (not that there were many of them, it's not very well known at all yet), we decided that's where we're going that day!
View that greeted us as soon as our (rented) car rolled into the area

A little cafe where we had coffee and snack later on :P
The whole place was very green and well maintained
There were also antique cars you can take pictures with
Baby Boy being a big fuss that he was, got very worried and kept on saying "But it's someone's car!". So? I'm pretty sure it's there for photo takings too :p
You need to step down a set of stairs to get to the museum area
View from parking area
I was pretty confused at how quiet and deserted the place looked! There was no actual entrance (because this place was actually a privately owned property of the masks and puppets collector. He must be a very rich guy!!! The place was MASSIVE!) and stuffs, no signs on what to do or where to enter @_@. Saw a traditional looking building and entered.
Greeted by this. The light was off (there were air conditioner units but none of them was ever turned on during our visit) and nobody was there! I was a bit scared to step into it. I mean, i don't even know, what if we're stepping in a forbidden area!!!
Then after a while a woman (i guess one of the owner's employee) stepped in, talked to us (asking for donation, of all things!) and then turned on the lamps
Mixture of reog ponorogo and Barongsai area
I got lots and lots of blurry pictures that day *___*. Dunno if it's the *lack of* lighting, or my camera's having one of those days, or if it's because of a more sinister reason (as a superstitious Asian, i can't help but think about those horror stories i've read on how masks and puppets can sometimes "invite" unholy beings to reside in them *because they are shaped like a living thing*! They wouldn't be too happy if i snap pictures of their vessel now, would they?)
Huge ondel-ondel that creeped the hell out of me
Look at this guy, ready to flee already. I guess he's not into masks and puppets. Fortunately Baby Boy was as entranced as me (well, me later on the puppets area, in the first few "houses" i was just busy snapping pictures for a blog post than anything :p)
Posing before moving on

Now let me explain a little bit about the woman that approached us when we were roaming alone by ourselves in that first building. First of all, i did a lot of googling of this place before we went there and all of the information stated that it's FREE admission. Now, don't get me wrong, i definitely do not mind paying especially for such an interesting place like this. They definitely need money to keep everything going right? It just irked me when they're advertising on the FREE admission but asked for donation as soon as you entered *LOL*.
Again, i do not mind in the slightest to pay for my experience there, but if i can have a little opinion here i'd say it's much better if they set a number for an entrance fee. I mean, putting us on the spot like that was very uncomfortable and we were confused on how much we should pay. Museum entrances in Indonesia are not expensive at all, but we'd be too embarrassed if we gave out the amount they usually charge on museums (usually it's a lot cheaper than IDR 10.000, which is gross and no wonder most museums in Indonesia are not visit-worthy!) so we ended up giving IDR 50.000 (which is like USD 5, maybe severely cheap for non Indonesian but it's very generous if you see it from a local POV) but it was probably not enough because i saw the only other tourists (a non-local couple) were asked to write in the guest book after making the donation and they never bothered asking us to. LOL.

I was a bit disappointed when i entered the first building because i thought it was the entire museum and that would mean that it was TINY! How wrong i was hahaha. There were a few other traditional styled buildings, all housing masks and puppets from all over the world. If you're into such things, you'd spend hours in this place!
Off to the second building
Again, taken by Baby boy hihihi. Niceee, now we can have couple pictures when we travel with Baby Boy, even though from a slightly odd angles hahahaha.
Every building was separated into two (or more) by this kind of wooden wall
Lots and lots of wayang in the second building. Hunny's not a fan of wayang so he got bored very fast, thank goodness for Baby Boy and his innocent enthusiasm that i have (a little) company while taking pictures. Being almost alone in such a place (quiet, not very well lit and surrounded by scary looking mask) was not for the faint hearted okay hahaha
Interesting animal wayang!
Almost gave me a heart attack when Baby Boy moved to touch the wayang! I guess it was not a crime to touch those things (since there were no signs saying you shouldn't :p) but as a strict museum goers (i was even afraid to take pictures at first because most museum forbid you to do so right? But i checked with the lady and she said sure, take as many pictures as you want) i forbade him to touch anything (also for the superstitious reason, we do not want him to touch anything sacred of "infested" okay!) ever since. What if he broke something!!!
The view from the second building
Spotted this interesting tiny hut, peeked inside and there were stuffs inside so someone actually sleeps there!
Approaching third building
Some of the masks were kept inside a cupboard, some just hung there. Wonder if those inside the cupboard was rarer, more valuable or worse... Contains unholy spirits? *shudder* *i clearly watched too much horror movies*
Baby Boy with one of "spirit robes" that is used on a spiritual ceremonies. So scary, i was even more concerned of him touching the things! I really don't think you should (and for those skeptics out there, no-this is not a challenge okay)
The second mask totally reminded me of Jaffar from Aladdin!
Tribal masks

Taken by Baby Boy *coz his daddy already went to explore other buildings, leaving the two of us alone #ihatehimsometimes*
Ondel2 on the third building
Haiiiii, what's with the super lopsided smile???? GRRRRR. Totally inherited it from his grandma. And his auntie CW
Rastafarian giant
Size comparison *LOL*
Pastel colored wayang
Lots of contemporary wayang as well, didn't even know such things existed
There were even Christian-themed wayangs! It was located very high up so this is the best the i could snap #sorry
Chinese themed wayangs

Fourth and our most fave building
See this?
Barrack Obama's puppet with the owner's puppet! Super cute!
My favorite puppet (and item in general) of the whole museum
I'm very partial to big sized (human size would be even better) statues and puppets. Especially creepy looking Asian dolls (this is because i am a huge horror freak and one of the my most favorite type of horror movies are the ones with puppets/dolls/statues comes to life. Never cease to amaze me). Preferably female (because male ghosts are never as scary as female ones).
Look at her! Totally belong to a creepy Japanese movie!
Notice the second to right, upper row puppet? It's a famous Indonesian character but i can't remember the name! Anyone???

Pretty sure the far right puppet's an Indonesian gennie (not in a good way) puppet
Baby Boy's favorite must be the skeleton puppet *he's obsessed with skeletons, dunno why*
The girl puppet in the back row was so creepy because it was so life-like!

Cam-whorer sprung into action
I also liked this Indian woman puppet a lot
Really? Alien ancestors? Wow. And i just realize that the puppet on the left side was topless with huge bazookas :p

Am a huge fan of puppets
Absolutely love Chinese puppets too since they are super creepy as well
Pretty Chinese lady puppet in her pink getup

Love this picture even though it was so blurry :p

The last building

One of the highlight of this visit was, i get to see a real Noh mask up close and personal!
I saw so many pictures (and drawings) of this mask, seeing the real thing was a very valued experience for me
Creepy explanation of the Noh mask. Basically telling you a Noh mask is not just a property or a simple mask but it was a vessel that can be used (you know, by spirits!). Now i'm sure most of those masks were kept inside glass separator for a reason! And not only to shield them from human hands, but maybe shielding human from the dark entities that might reside inside them. Do you think i should start writing horror stories?

As a huge Japanese culture lover, avid Japanese comic book and horror movies fan, i felt very priviledged to be able to see those masks so closely, without even having to go to Japan some more (but it's definitely on my "must visit SOON" countries list).
And that last picture ended our visit to Setia Darma House of Mask and Puppets! Talked a little bit with the cafe minder in the little cafe i mentioned earlier (will talk about it more in another, culinary post) and he told us that this place was already 13 years old but only started being promoted in the past year. Wonder why that is?
Cam-whored a but before wrapping it up
Personally i'd really recommend you to visit this interesting place next time you're in Bali. Especially if you're a fan of masks or puppets/arts/cultures or just plain bored of the same old touristy places. I am pretty satisfied with this visit and it totally helped me mend my old wound (of not being able to do a single touristy activities the last time we were in Bali-that would be December 2012-January 2013. You can read about that post in my January 2013 archieve).

Yea, don't believe the free admision part, make sure you bring some money okay hahaha
Hope you enjoyed the post! Let me know if you've been to this place or intrigued to go after reading this :D!


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  1. The Setai Darma house of masks and puppets looks interesting to visit considering the collections comes from different countries along with their cultural histories. Nice photos too :-)

  2. The Setia Darma house is very spacious and does have a lot of artifacts.

    1. Yes, it's totally a hidden gem in Bali island :)

  3. When visiting Asian countries, Bali is one of the top destinations I would love to tour around with my family.

    1. That's nice, there are a lot of other interesting cities in Indonesia that you should visit too if you're coming :)!