Click to Enlarge !
Mas means ‘gold’ in Bahasa Indonesia, but woodcarving is the principal craft in this village. The great Majapahit priest Nirartha once lived here, and Pura Taman Pule is said to be built on the site of his home. During the three-day Kuningan festival, a performance of wayang wong (an older version of the Ramayana ballet) is held in the temple’s courtyard.
Carving was a traditional art of the priestly Brahmana caste, and the skills are said to have been a gift of the gods. Historically, carving was limited to temple decorations, dance masks and musical instruments, but in the 1930s carvers began to depict people and animals in a naturalistic way. Today it’s hard to resist the oodles of winsome creatures produced here.
This is the place to come if you want something custom-made in sandalwood – just be prepared to pay well (and check the wood’s authenticity carefully). Mas is also part of Bali’s booming furniture industry, producing chairs, tables and antiques (‘made to order!’), mainly from teak imported from other Indonesian islands.
Three generations of carvers produce some of Bali’s most revered masks in the family compound of IB Anom, right off the main road in Mas. There is a small showroom with their works, but mostly the appeal is visiting with the family while they create something out of cedar. You can take lessons (from 100,000Rp per day) and expect to have something half-good in about two weeks.
Along the main road in Mas are the Taman Harum Cottages. There are 17 rooms and villas – some quite large. By all means get one overlooking the rice fields. They’re behind a gallery, which is also a venue for a huge range of art and cultural courses. Ubud shuttles are free.
North of Mas, woodcarving shops make way for the art galleries, cafes, hotels and lights of Ubud.