According to the Balinese chronicles, Danghyang Nirartha (Padanda Sakti Bahu Rauh) came to Bali from Java at the end of the 1 5th century and made his home in this village. This priest, from whom almost all of Bali's Brahmanas claim descent, gave Balinese Hinduism the form it now presents, including its highly complex offerings and spectacular cremation rituals. He became court priest of the Gelgel ruler.

Dozens of temples in Bali are associated with his name, for he made long trips on foot through the island. Most of the villagers of Mas (which means "gold") are Brahmanas who honor their ancestor in the Pura Taman Pule built upon the site of Nirartha is residence.

In the olden days, the fine arts of woodcarving and painting were reserved almost exclusively for royal and religious purposes.

Nowadays they are also produced for enjoyment and commerce. Men of every caste are artisans, and in Mas live some of the most talented. The best known is lda Bagus Nyana, who in 1974 received a high national reward in recognition of his art. For many years he has not sold his beautiful and original carvings, which may be seen at his home. His son, lda Bagus Tilem, is one of several accomplished sculptors working at Mas.

Some carvers specialize in masks for the Topeng and other dances. Do not be surprised when you visit an art shop to find a corps of woodcarvers making statues-the Balinese do everything in groups, and many of the young carvers work under the direction of a master. A carver selects his seasoned block of timber-often, an ebony from Sulawesi-then shapes the rough form with an axe. With a mallet and dozens of small chisels, the carving is worked into its finished form and finally smoothened. The polish is nothing more than shoe shine. Again, the sculptors begin young. The most expensive carving is often done by boys of twelve years.


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