Q: I have a carved wooden noh mask and I can’t seem to find one quite like it. Some help concerning the age, authenticity and possibly value would be greatly appreciated.The mask seems like it has a little age but doesn’t seem used. The strips of animal skin with hair for the eyebrows and mustache seem older and dry, and the tacks holding them in are a bit rusty. The mask is about 5-3/4 inches wide and 7-1/2 tall. Tyler, 618
A: Japan is a country where they take masquerade very seriously and so is Bali (part of Indonesia). (more…)
Q: My understanding is that this is an older Brazilian Carnaval mask, I picked it up on a trip years ago. Old or not I really like the mask and have kept it in the bath looking down on the unassuming visitor……it always gets a comment! Justin, 617
A: First, a note of explanation. (more…)
Mexican with pet snake
Q: The construction on all three masks is the same (one is pictured). Came across these when looking for some antique furniture. They were inside an old chest. I would suspect the teeth are cow or horse. Look forward to your comments. Justin, 616
A: This is an attention-getting mask that surely comes from Urupan, Michoacan. (more…)
Q: I have this mask and would like to know it’s origin. I hope you can help. Thank you, Vera, 615
A: The mask is from West Africa. (more…)
Q: I acquired these 2 masks from a 75 year old gentlemen. They were given to him by his father who said they were purchased in Alaska. They are made of wood. The teeth seem real. Maybe a man and woman? There are no markings on the back. The hair seems like horse hair. The larger mask is approx 12×7. There appears to be adhesive on the back. The detail on the smaller mask seems as if it was glued to leather. The adhesive looks like liquid nails. Sharyl, 614
A: At first I thought they might be Native American because I have seen a old, Northern Iroquois masks that looked a little like yours. (more…)
Q: I received this mask from an estate of a friend. It is at least 50 yrs old and was bought in Guayaquil, Ecuador. The horns are loose but real horn as are the teeth real teeth, as you can probably tell. There is a snake head sticking out of the mouth. Would it be worth restoring? I want to keep it. I have another one which is similar. Jim, 613
A: For starters, the mask was made in Mexico rather than Ecuador, (more…)
Q: Your name and e-mail was given to me by a seller on E-bay- “mask monger.” I found this mask in a box of things I bought at auction. I’ve called and e-mailed several different people hoping to learn a little history of this mask, and only mask monger knew anything. He said it might be a Paragueros mask- but told me to ask you. I’d be very grateful of any advice you could offer, thank you for your time. Tom, 612
A: Maskmonger made an interesting guess. (more…)
Somewhere in Africa
Q: Not sure if this is an original or not. Picked it up at an auction sale. Sure is an odd one but handsome enough…lol! Thanks for anything you can tell me. Eileen, 611
A: You will have difficulty identifying this mask. (more…)
Bwa or Mossi
Q: 20-odd years ago I was doing some work in Ghana and came across this mask. At the time I thought it unusual and as far as I could tell (after a while you developed a sense of what is and what isnt ) seemed an authentic as opposed to carved for tourists item (but seeing as the Africans are past masters at aging items of course I could be wrong) anyway the mask always seemed to have a visual strength to it and I really like it.
Recently I wanted to find out more about it and started looking for clues and despite a lot of searching can not find one that is similar. I am assuming the closest visual references come from Burkina Faso with the geometric design and stylization. Steve, 610
A: Of course it is from Burkina Faso, (more…)
My book writing continues. There will be about 200 masks in the Mexican section so it was hard to pick just one for the blog. It is a skull, but not one for Day of the Dead.
In Mexico, it is common during Semana Santa (Holy Week, the period from Palm Sunday through Easter Sunday) for there to be Easter pagents, depicting the capture and crucifixion of Christ. Those who pursue and torment Jesus are called by various names, depending on the town or region. In the state of San Luis Potosí these negative legions are called Judios (Juduses) or Fariseos (Pharisees). They demonstrate ignorant, unruly and evil behavior, led by their mentor, Judus. The masks are varied and inventive, and include skulls, monsters, Kings and Queens, soldiers, Bishops, animals, fallen women or caricatures of ordinary people. This is a classic skull mask from San Luis Potosí. The mask is 10 inches high and carved from very heavy wood. It appears to have been danced.