Masks of the World


Indian seal mask– maybe

NWC seal mask

NWC seal mask

Q:  Numerous “experts” have been stumped in regard to the identification of my mask or ‘helmet’ … variously ascribed as Tlingit, Kwakwaka’wakw, Mexican, Guatemalan and Javanese. The oxidation of the wood suggests considerable age … surely more than a century. What do you think? Also, can you recommend someone who can identify the type of wood which may lead to proper identification?  Christopher, 630

A:  Though I can’t find one that looks like this, I’m pretty sure it’s from the Pacific Northwest. I even tend to agree with you on age. What is the size? Can you put your head into it and see out the mouth? Identifying the wood might also help. You should be able to find a carver, woodworker, or lumber yard with someone there who knows wood. In the meantime I’ll post it and try to start a search. With this information you could send your pics to some specialists in NWC tribal art and see what they have to say.

Categories:   Native America


  • Posted: April 8, 2014 13:25

    Christopher Eiben

    The mask is just under 12 inches in length and though it might fit on a small head... my fat head does not! No, a wearer could not look through the mouth ... it seems to be a helmet/headdress meant to perch on top of the head.
  • Posted: July 30, 2014 19:08

    Ray Hartenstine

    This does not look like the typical Northwest costal Indian art style and I have never seen a North west coastal Mask that looks like this... I think it is from some where else, definitely not Northwest costal Indian art.....
  • Posted: October 12, 2014 15:28

    yolanda wilson

    I have 2 African mask and 2 African statues how can I find out the value of them?
  • Posted: February 14, 2015 00:46

    Judith Bondar

    You might try contacting the Arctic Studies Center. They may be able to point you in the right direction, especially if the mask is of Arctic origins. I use their site when my students are studying masks of different cultures in preparation of creating a mask out of clay. I hope they can be of some help.