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Fun Guatemalan mask

Indian chief

Indian chief

Q:  Hi Bob, Jim Walker here. Just picked up a mask. I think it might be Mexican. What do you think about the edge wear?  Jim, 749

A:  The edge wear and rear inside do suggest age. But where are the strap holes? How would you keep it on your face? Authentic or not, this item is pretty cute. As an artist, I would enjoy having it on my wall. It is a quickly made Indian mask from Guatemala. The character is wearing a feathered headdress. (more…)


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Mask of the future

3d printed

3d printed

Q:  I am a member of the Carapace Project’s team. We create customized masks using 3d body scanning technique and high-quality 3d printers. Your work and your website represent a source of inspiration for us and makes me feel you are one of those people who would like to see what “the mask from the future” looks like. So, we would like to introduce you our new collection, Carapace.  Fabrizio, 748

A:  This is pretty cool stuff. (more…)


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Battle of the Tigres

Zitlala, Guerrero

Zitlala, Guerrero

Q: This is a mask I got in Guerrero, Mexico some years ago.  I believe it is “vintage,” because I don’t think they make them out of leather anymore.  I was told it’s a jaguar for a jaguar dance.  It’s leather that has been colored in a dark turquoise color, has mirrors for eyes, and projecting whiskers (not sure whether they are organic hair or synthetic) – aprox 6 in. tall.  Deborah, 747

A:  Called a Tigre mask all over Mexico, this one is from Zitlala, Guerro, where they have a special celebration in May where gangs from different barrios in town put on these heavy leather helmets and fight each other with wood sticks. (more…)


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Cute Japanese party mask

aaaMystrySolvd-746Q:  Could you please tell me what you can about these two papier mache masks- country of origin, age, purpose? One looks like an animal, possibly a fox, the other appears to be possibly a human caricature. I bought them together at a flea market last year and they look like they are from same maker. Thanks,  Sal, 746

A:  I believe this is an inexpensive mask made for ordinary people in Japan. (more…)


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Big mask from Puerto Rico

PR Vejigante

PR Vejigante

Q:  I have inherited one large signed Caraballo and two small Caraballo, Jr. Vejigante masks.  The father’s mask is dated 1986 and the 2 by Jr. are dated 1987.  I am in the market to sell them and I have detailed pictures which I can forward if you give me an email address.  Robert, 745

A:  This is a parade-size Vejigante made by Miguel Caraballo of Ponce, Puerto Rico. (more…)


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The Barnes is a trip

aaaMystrySolvd-744Yesterday I took the train to downtown Philadelphia and got my first look at the famous Barnes Foundation in its new building. What a treat that was! In case you don’t know about it, the Barnes is the only museum in the world that displays African traditional art along with French Impressionism and other modern art… side by side!  See for yourself at www.barnesfoundation.org

In their office area I saw a recently made paper mask on the wall and asked about it. (more…)


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Primitive mask from the Himalayas

Tamang mask

Tamang mask

Q:  Mask with crude carving, 24.5 x 15 cm, with darkened surface, I do not know what kind of wood. I bought this mask from a man who had bought in Nepal many years ago. I was told this was a Tamang dance mask from Nepal. I would like to have your opinion on its origin, authenticity and age. It would also be very interesting to know more about its symbolic meaning and use.

A:  The Tamang, one of several ethnic groups living in the Himalayan regions of Nepal, practice Tibetan Buddhism and are known to produce primitive looking masks such as this for use in shamanistic rituals. (more…)


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African art show in Bloomington, IN

Edo lizard mask, Nigeria

Edo lizard mask, Nigeria

Q:  We’re hosting a special exhibition called “Visions from the Forests: The Art of Liberia and Sierra Leone” at the Indiana University Art Museum. The centerpiece of the exhibition is over 30 different masks. I was doing a little web research, and came across your site, and thought you might find this exhibition interesting.  It opens March 7, and will continue to the High Museum in Atlanta afterwards. It has previously been on view at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts and the Smithsonian. (more…)


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Iban mask from Borneo

Iban, Sarawak, Borneo

Iban, Sarawak, Borneo

Q:  Hi, again– This is a mask collected by my elderly friend from an Iban area of Sarawak.  I love it (especially the cigarette foil teeth!), and I would really like to be able to tell her more about it.  Do you know what the use for such a mask might be?  Thanks again for your help!  Sarah, 741

A:  I usually don’t post two mystery masks from the same person, at least not in the same month. (Sarah’s other one is 738.) (more…)


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Nice Senufo Kpelie mask

Senufo Kplie mask

Senufo Kpelie mask

Q:  This is a mask I acquired at an estate sale, the owner of which appeared to be a mask collector. I was told that it is from Africa and that it is old but no other details. The mask is made out of wood which appears to have some age on it. It measures about 14″ long and 7″ wide. I would appreciate your insight as to the more specific origin and purpose/symbolism of this piece. The mouth of the mask particularly got me interested as to why it was designed that way. Very curious about your opinion of this piece!  Yuriy, 74

A: Your mask is called a Kpelie and comes from the Senufo people of Ivory Coast. (more…)


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