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A mystery from Africa

Q:  Je suis en possession de ce masque mais je n’ai aucune idée de sa provenance et s’il a une quelconque valeur ou simplement décoratif.  Vous est-il possible de m’éclairer sur le sujet ?  Il mesure 24cm/9,5 inches.   Jean Luc, 1094

A:  My wife translated this. Jean Luc wants to know what the mask is. Of course… and so do I.

Dear fellow collectors, please give me your thoughts. The photographs are good. It doesn’t look like airport art. If the patina is fake, it would have taken a lot of time and effort.  B+

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Categories:   Africa, Unknown

Comments

  • Posted: January 24, 2017 11:21

    Chris

    It looks certainly stunning, like a real, ethnographic, nowadays-painted African dance mask. However, there are three details which do not fit for being a real dance mask. First, where is the recess for the nose? There is not, evidently. So, the patina on the inside of the supposed wear and tear is too uniform. If a nose would bang over and over again on the inside, there would be great wear on one spot, and very little besides it. Second, the wear on the rim of the nose is consistent, but not the wear on the forehead. The forehead protrudes like the nose, so it would have to show more tear, in my opinion. Third, the holes for the strings: with such a lot of patina on the inside, the holes would have to be worn out much more, also on the rim of the mask - I can't see this, on the photos. So, there is my opinion: a great antiquing job. Not really the real deal of a mask thus, but a wonderful peace of authentic art, at least! However, I can also be wrong, of course. Greets
  • Posted: January 24, 2017 20:45

    Eric

    Its a fantasy piece with Igbo, Ibibio and Ogoni elements, and the inside and outside patina are faked to look old.
  • Posted: January 24, 2017 20:47

    Eric

    Chris' observations about the lack of wear and attachment holes are correct.
  • Posted: January 24, 2017 21:17

    Bob Ibold

    Thanks to Chris and Eric, I'm identifying the mask as both "Unknown" and "African." If you want to disagree or add more info, please do.