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Nice West African mask

Authentic?

Authentic?

Q:  The raffia material seems authentically darkened by use; there are stains of sweat around the inner side and at the chin; it does not smell of any varnish or recent burning; the patina is even but not too even; the cloth hood at the back fell off some time ago, and was clearly covered with some light blue material; the forehead was covered with blue color stains, too, but was worn away; the dirt on the ‘hair’ seems truly old; the bird on the head has a hole onto which something was attached at some time; the raffia is attached by very corroded nails which do not seem to have been hit by some hammer recently. The holes for wearing were clearly not used, instead, the mask would have been held in place by the hood and the strings. (more…)


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Carved wood lion mask from Asia

Bali?

Bali?

Q:  The mask I am sending pictures of is something I picked up in Bali a few weeks ago while on vacation. What do you think? It looks like it may have been used and had been hung for quite a while. By the way, I live and teach in Vientiane Laos and picked up a mask a few years ago at an expat bazaar. What should I be looking for in Laos and northern Thailand?  Lance, 802

A:  I have seen masks like this before but need some help in identifying the place of origin. (more…)


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Nicely sculpted Guatemalan mask

By the same carver?

By the same carver?

Q:   I have two masks I am interested in selling. These masks were purchased at an estate auction of a diplomat who lived in Alexandria, VA.  I bought them at an antiques shop.  The seller thinks they might be from Mexico, but he is uncertain.  I typically “pick” items for resale on ebay.  I would be interested in purchasing an appraisal for the masks, or I might be interested in selling them to you if you were interested.  Not sure of the best route to take.  Mike, 800

A:  As you know, submitting more than one mask is discouraged on the Mystery Mask blog. So are requests for monetary value. (more…)


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Authentic Tlingit ceremonial mask

Alaska or NWC Canada

Alaska or NWC Canada

Q:  I purchased this mask from an online website that had it listed as an “antique unknown mask”. Upon first glance, I thought that the piece may be a newer Indonesian reproduction of a northwest coast mask, but after closer inspection, it appears that the mask has a considerable amount of age and wear consistent with use. I would just like to know whether this is an authentic Native American mask or not. Also, the shape of the eyes look similar to the almond shape that I see on Yupik masks, however the lip and brown form of the mask is consistent with northwest coast style.  Trent, 800

A:  You are right. This is not a fake made in Indonesia or anywhere else. (more…)


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Old Devil masks for tourists

Patzcuaro, Michoacan

Patzcuaro, Michoacan

Q:  These masks always hung on my grandfather’s office wall. I have had them hanging  or boxed since I got them around 1985. I thought i was told they were Mexican and that my grandparents bought them there, but after looking at your website I wonder about them being unpainted. The one with numbers looks like auction lot notes. I have photos of back, front sides and the close ups of the ones with writing. I am so curious!  Elizabeth, 799

A:  I am partial to Mexican masks, so your collection of five old Devil masks from Patzcuaro, Michoacan, excited me. (more…)


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West African mask from somewhere

Not the Congo

Not the Congo

Q:  I recently purchased this wooden mast at auction because I found it quite striking. The mask is 24″ tall and was described as an old Songye Congo carved wooden Kifwebe mask with an unusual animal crest.  I would greatly appreciate your opinion of the mask and it’s description.  Jason, 798

A:  It is not a Songye Kifwebe mask. Nor does it resemble the work done by any of the various tribes occupying the Congo basin. The best I can tell you is that it probably was made somewhere in West Africa. It looks old and used, but almost all of the African masks we see on the market have been artificially aged to make them more appealing to the tourist market. (more…)


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Classic Guatemalan mask

Vaquero (cowboy)

Vaquero (cowboy)

Most traditional masks from this little Central American country have four eye holes– two with glass eyeballs staring out of them, and the other two for the dancer to look out of. These masks also appear to have been carved by artists trained in the academic style of the Spanish Renaissance.
The folk art of Guatemala’s indigenous people dates back hundreds of years to the conquest and beyond. Some of their dances are rooted in traditions brought from Spanish religious celebrations. Then there are those of Mayan tradition where animal masks are often used in dances like “Toritos” (the Little Bulls), or “El Venado” (the Deer). (more…)


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African mask with moving mouth

Ogoni people, Nigeria

Ogoni people, Nigeria

Q:  I bought this mask on a car boot sale simply because I liked it and found it very interesting. I have tried to find out a bit about it with not much luck. Could this be an African maiden mask?  I would appreciate any information you can give me. Jude, 796

A:  This is an Elu mask with hinged jaw from the Ogoni people of southern Nigeria, Africa’s most populated country. (more…)


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Ticuna Indian ceremonial mask

aaaMystrySolvd-794Q:  Around 35 years ago, I used to live in San Francisco.  I was very friendly with the senior management at Macy’s Department Stores.  I had their top designer come out to my house to determine decorations….He told me that Macy’s SF had a South American exhibit in their downtown location…part of the exhibit were these masks from a museum in Ecuador…when the exhibit was over, the museum would not pay to have much of the exhibit returned, which included these masks.  Not knowing what to do with them, their designer decided to use them in my house for a part of the fee they charged me…he told me they were hand carved wooden masks by an indigenous tribe who lived in the Amazon….I assumed he was forthright as I didn’t have any way to verify this story…so I’ve had them on my wall both in San Francisco and now in the Seattle area for all these years.  But as I am now much older and trying to value my estate, I felt it’s time to determine what these masks are worth.  Ira, 793 (more…)


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Classic Javanese dance mask

Raja Putri

Raja Putri

Q:  We got these at a garage sale. I presume they’re Indonesian – Javanese? I have cheekily submitted the two, because they’re so much a pair. They are too small to be actual costume masks I think. Unless worn by children. Any thoughts?  Jessica, 795

A: Javanese dance masks sometimes look small to American and European collectors because we tend to be larger than the Indonesians. I don’t think it is for children. This particular mask could be Raja Putri or some other high ranking member of the court in the classic (more…)


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