Rasinah: The Enchanted Mask

Watching the lithe, expressive movements of Javanese masked dancer Rasinah, one would never believe a 72-year-old woman is behind the mask. She is a master of an ancient form of mask dance called Topeng Cirebon, which originated in West Java, Indonesia. Rooted in Islamic mysticism, the spiritual significance of the masks and dances was restricted to "specialist families," who for centuries passed on their unique heritage from generation to generation. By the late 1900s the popularity of Topeng Cirebon had faded—its mystical masters forgotten.

Once one of the most popular of the Topeng artists, Rasinah had been reduced to poverty as the taste for this traditional art form waned. Two young men became enraptured by tales of a hidden national treasure living in a remote village. They set out to find Rasinah to rescue her dance from extinction. Not having danced in 20 years and afraid that she was now too old, she hesitates. But once she holds the mask, her body moves again like a young dancer and she is off on an incredible journey of renewal.

The film captures ancient rituals, spirit-infested graveyards, and enchanted masks. Fortunately, Rasinah's granddaughter, Erli, is able to carry on the age-old tradition. This colorful documentary shows the history, function, and meaning of these masked dances.


"Recommended…well edited and the sound quality of the music . . . is excellent."
"’Educational Media Reviews Online

An elderly practitioner of a traditional Javanese dance form discusses her life, performs her dance, and helps preserve the tradition for another generation. Suitable for high school classes and for college courses in cultural anthropology, anthropology of art/dance, anthropology of religion, anthropology of disappearing cultures/cultural survival, and Southeast Asian studies, as well as general audiences.

"’Jack David Eller, Anthropology Review Database

Rasinah: The Enchanted Mask


Type Price
Streaming Access (1-year) $149.00
Streaming Access (3-year) $299.00
Streaming Access (Perpetual) $499.00
DVD $195.00
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