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Souvenirs vs. Traditional Art

Senufo mask

Senufo mask

Q:  Another mask I found recently. I don’t know anything about it other than it is sand cast metal, I believe.  Dee, 784

A:  You can see a similar African mask that I posted Feb 8. Your mask is also called a Kpelie and comes from the Senufo people of Ivory Coast. These refined face masks represent women, are danced by men, and are usually associated with the Poro association. Called Beautiful Lady or Kpelie, they come with many variations, with rich and complex symbolism. At that time I went on to say, “Yours is especially nice. It’s designed very well and is carefully carved.” (more…)


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Excellent mask from New Guinea

Lower Sepik, PNG

Lower Sepik, PNG

Q:  I just bought this at auction but know nothing about it. Any ideas about it would be appreciated. I’m interested in starting a small collection of masks.  Steve, 783

A:  This would be an excellent start to a collection. It is a very well made example of an ancestor mask from the Lower Sepic River area of Papua New Guinea. (more…)


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Venetian bird mask

Let's party

Let’s party

Sometimes I’ll show a mask I used to own because they represent cultures we don’t see much on the Mystery Mask blog. Call it a change of pace.

This one is European, a classic carnival mask made of papier mache from Venice . Signed by the artist “Barbare” on the rear. An almost identical mask is illustrated in the book, “Masks from Around the World.” This one is a used mask with quite a few chips in the paint and some large repairs. I suspect the wearer may have fallen down a few times.  In my opinion, the repairs make for a good story and do not distract much from its beauty.  782


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Warlike Guere/We mask

Ivory Coast, West Africa

Ivory Coast, West Africa

Q:  Here’s a wooden mask that my father acquired in Ivory Coast somewhere around 1975. It’s probably from the Guiglo region, in the southwest of the country. He bought it from someone there, and I’m very curious about its originality and possibly if you know anything more about its function or meaning. As a frequent visitor of your website and mask enthusiast/collector I was hoping you might be able to tell me something more about it!   Sven, 781

A: The Guere people (also called the We) are the dominant ethnic group in that area. (more…)


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Why Mexican masks are so much fun

Guerrero Diablo

Guerrero Diablo

Q:  I am a bit embarrassed to say it, but I keep wavering on whether this mask is Guatemalan or Mexican. Thoughts? What about it strikes you as the most obvious indicator of one vs the other? (I then asked about the aluminum foil.) At first glance, I was thinking it was more than likely HVAC duct tape. Although the yellow portions make me re-think that as I cant imagine a yellow duct tape being produced for that purpose.  Nate, 780

A:  (A friend said this.)  It would appear to be a Diablo mask from the Mexican state of Guerrero. (more…)


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Masks from India or the Himalayas

Monkey mask from the pile

Monkey mask from the pile

Q:  I am currently backpacking through India, and in Jaisalmer I came across a curiosity shop of sorts. I purchased the two masks pictured. One looks almost identical to what you identify as a Nepalese monkey mask. My question is about the cow-looking one. I found a great pile of dusty and dirt-covered animal and humanoid masks that appeared related (see photo I took in the shop). Initially the shopkeeper told me they were used in a village play over 100 years ago and then the next day his brother said they were hung on houses as evil eyes. Obviously I can’t trust either story and was hoping you could shed some light on their origins.  Will, 779

A: Thank you for your photos and comments. (more…)


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Sculpture from the SW Pacific

Timor?

Timor?

Q:  My husband acquired this mask from an antiques dealer and was told that it had been purchased in NYC the 70’s. We believe it is from Indonesia. We were hoping you could give us some more information.  Alicia, 778

A:  This piece of art is about 30 inches tall, so it is made for decorating a home. I think it is quite handsome, but is not a real mask. (more…)


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Portrait mask from NWC Canada

North West Coast

North West Coast

Q:  I got this mask at a local antique gun show. It is made of cedar and is nine and a half inches tall. I believe it might be authentic northwest coast Indian. Do you think it is real, or a copy from the US? If you have the time to look at this, thanks very much.  Cyril, 777

A: Of course I have the time. It is a special pleasure for me when readers find a mask that might be worth a lot to collectors. (more…)


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Japanese Noh demon

damaged goods

damaged goods

Q:  A friend of mine found and purchased this mask at a yard sale but asked if i wanted it rather than her trying to donate it to a second hand store where it would likely have been discarded for being too “evil” for the local central NY population  Is it Japanese or something else? It appears to be wood with a thin veneer of plaster, one eye is intact but the second was damaged before my friend purchased it.  I have no idea how old it really is. There are worn leather straps inside for wearing it, and only one mark that appears to be a stamp on the inside.  Can you tell me anything about it’s history and where it’s from?   Damon, 776

A: My books don’t show this particular Noh character. (more…)


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Cakil is one of the bad guys

Javanese mask

Javanese mask

Q:  Hey! I have a question if you or anyone else have any information about this mask. It hangs on a wall at home here in Sweden, but I have no clue about it other then I believe it’s from Malaysia.  Varg, 775

A:  Let’s go further south to Java, Indonesia. (more…)


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