The Monkey's Mask - an old outdated tradition

The street was filled with sounds of kolintang- an old Indonesian musical instrument- while children gather around, forming a small crowd. In the middle of the crowd a man stood holding a chain, and tethered to the other end, was a small macaque monkey. The man, appearing to be in his twenties, then proceed to yank on the chain, upon which the small mammal began to dance to the traditional tune. The performance is known locally as topeng monyet, or the monkey's mask, and it existed not only in Indonesia, but also around Asia in India, Pakistan, and a number of other countries. The show went on with the man throwing a number of props near the monkey; maskss, a small scooter, and a fake guitar. With a yank of the chain, the monkey then proceeded to utilize the props. During the performance, the monkey could be seen - if only for a while - yanking on its chain. The performance reached its climax when the monkey reenacted a bike crash by falling and playing dead. _MG_3718

Aside from being deemed boorish by international communities, the performance itself was proved to be dangerous for viewers. A study done by the university of Washington back in 2005 revealed a slew of viral infections that could potentially be transmitted by the monkeys, including Herpes-B; it also hinted on the possibility that the performance monkeys may be a transmitter of HIV virus.


Irregardless, the performance persists, and in high numbers. Cities such as Jakarta would have numerous performances all throughout its streets. In time, perhaps, the concept of animal rights would crawl into people's minds through education, and practices as such would be abolished, but until then, macaque monkeys would always be used for entertainment.