Originally Tari Topeng / Mask Dances in Bali are sacred, even at this time the creativity of Balinese dancers has developed Mask Dance to entertain as well. The sacred Mask Dances are usually performed by a single dancer or a group of male dancers in large ceremonies. They have a purpose for telling viewers about the historical background of why a ceremony must be held or to deliver Hinduism wisdom through simple conversation among dancers. It is also believed that it can protect a ceremony from evil interferences. The famous sacred Mask Dance is Topeng Pajegan.
Topeng Pajegan was based on a legend about an old priest named Sidhakarya. Sidhakarya actually is the brother of the king of the Gelgel kingdom who hailed from Java. He was chased away by the king of Gelgel (kingdom located in district of Klungkung) without clear reason. Before he left Klungkung, he cursed the king that every ritual ceremony proposed by the king will not run well. It became true. Finally the king realized his mistake and tried to apologize. For respecting the priest and neutralizing the curse, a mask dance must be performed before a ceremony is started, the Topeng Pajegan. So that is why Topeng Pajegan is always performed prior a big ceremony.
Topeng Pajegan is only performed by male dancers who use some masks. The main mask is called Sidhakarya. This dance tells us about Sidhakarya’s journey to Bali until he met the king and was chased away. Balinese people believe that the mask is the same as the Sidhakarya priest’s face. This dance is also believed to cure illnesses.