About Ketut Sukerta

Ketut Sukerta was born in September 1970 in Banjar Batanancak, Mas Ubud. Batancak Village enjoys a wide variety of specialised skills in wood carving and traditional mask making. As part of the greater Mas municipality, which is the leader in wood carving arts. He is a traditional mask maker, but started his wood artistry in carving wood sculptures.

Ketut Sukerta’s expertise and mastery of his art is exceptional yet modest. Never before has he stepped away from the cover of anonymity. However with Sawidji, for the first time, his art, his knowledge and gift will be shared for the first time in their own right, under his own name.

He began his creative studies in the musical direction. He underwent early training in Gamelan/Karawitan Orchestra. Due to the many areas of his interests, he received advice from his parents.

Ketut Sukerta Sawidji Gallery Mask, Topeng Bali.

At one point my parents gave me these words,. When you want to do something, you must be ready to learn a lot. To think and understand it well. If you want to make traditional masks you have to learn properly how to make the Balinese Mask. You must have a teacher and be ready to learn a lot.

Ketut Sukerta

He began the study of mask making in 1992. Mastering his skills until he is able to make the complete set of traditional masks. Traditional masks are an important component of Balinese traditional ceremony. The skill involved to truly master traditional mask making is one of high complexity and discipline.

Lessons from my teacher..

First learning with his older brother Pak Made Racem. Who is also a Mask Maker. He learned a great deal for a two year period. After which he left to find another teacher, one who is at a Master’s level.He then began an apprenticeship under Pak Wayan Muka. Pak Muka taught him a great deal. Knowledge about mask making that is more in depth. Which also involves the history of Bali, that left a strong impression on Ketut.


For six years he studied under Pak Wayan Muka. The knowledge he learned from Pak Wayan Muka stays with him until now. The most meaningful is how to make a mask that has Taksu. In other words, that it has life. When a mask is taken out for traditional ceremony in the dance, the mask comes alive and joins with the Dancer. To make a mask come alive, there are a lot of requirements and rules to adhere to.

Recollections of a Mask Maker

Ketut recalls a day with his teacher Pak Wayan Muka at an arts exhibition. There he recollects a conversation with his teacher. His teacher talked about the difficulty involved in creating the perfect mask. A true mask.

A True Mask

From its measurements and balance, following the set principles that guide the traditional art of mask making. Not deviating from the rules given to us from our Ancestors followed until now. From what did not exist to come into existence. From wood to a living face.

Stylistic influences

Ketut has his own identifiable style. His individual style can be seen in the lines of the faces of his masks. His hand is confident and sure. Therefore, the strength of the curves and facial features is often markedly more pronounced in his work.

Wood and the Mask

The relationship between wood and the carver has many layers. It is often described as quite an intuitive bond. Foe example, Ketut once saw a raw piece of wood from a Frangipani tree (Jepun Bali) and he was amazed to see the faces of the Barong Landung therein. His teacher immediately advised him to make it .

Coincidentally, it met with the right auspicious days . It is as though the wood speaks first. Showing what is hidden within it. Sometimes a piece of wood can remain in his yard for a long time. If it never speaks to him it may stay untouched for years.

Notable Achievements

Perhaps one example of the true level of Ketut’s Mastery is in this achievement. He is one of the few mask makers who has made the Barong Landung. A pair, husband and wife. The pair Ketut Made is now in the Presidential Collection of Indonesia’s once President Suharto..

Barong Landung

The unique quality of the Barong Landung, is that essentially, it is believed to be alive with a Guardian Spirit.There is a legend that refers to the Barong Landung. And how it came to be a Guardian Spirit that comes to protect its people in times of hardship. This legend refers to a King and his Queen named Prabu Jaya Pangus and Kang Cing Wie  who is the Guardian of the Barong pair.

In order to make the masks Barong Landung requires rituals of significant complexity. Also going with the Balinese Calendar, following the right auspicious days to undertake the task.

The Living Masks of Bali. Articles by Sawidji.

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