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Decorating vs. Collecting

Decorative mask

Decorative mask

Q: We purchased this mask recently from a man trying to get rid of some personal items. We love the combined mask basket look of it but, realize it is not an authentic worn mask. We however do not know what this style of mask is called. We would like to get more for declarative purposes but, searching basket mask on the internet does not provide any help in what they are called. Hope you can shed some light on a name. Thanks in advance.  Carolyn, 625

A: You can call this a West African tourist mask that looks like, and actually may be, from the Baule people of Ivory Coast. (more…)


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Sometimes it takes a while

Chokwe Wannabe

Chokwe Wannabe

Q: I was told by a German collector this mask was worn during tribal ceremonies but, no other information was known. It needs some restoration, I think. Not knowing where it is from means I’m not sure what it is suppose to look like. I have asked many people and one person said possibly Tchokwe but, with lack of symbol on the forehead could not be certain. It is made of a wood front and burlap(?) back with a fiber material attached to that and appears hand sewn. It would in fact accommodate a head but, it would be a snug fit. Any thoughts or ideas would be appreciated.  Carolyn, 619
A: I’d like to help you, but I can determine much about your mask if I can’t see the side or the rear. By rear I mean the back of the carved wooden part, not the cloth hood. (more…)


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A rough old African

Africa

Africa

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…)


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Another West African Mystery

Somewhere in Africa

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…)


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I recognize the style but not the character

Bwa or Mossi

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…)


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New 3-piece model

Igbo

Igbo

Q: This is the way I think the mask was supposed to be worn. The wicker and leather cap on top of the head are held on with the chin strap. The grass and leather is very dry and fragile and I was reluctant to force anything into position. Thanks for any help you can give. I really appreciate it. This is a hard one to display. Maybe a wig stand? Hate to beat it up anymore, it really should be preserved to some degree. I feel it is old and authentic, but the wooden chin guard doesn’t seem to have the same sense of age.  Don, 608

A: Your 3-piece mask ensemble seems to be from the Igbo people of Nigeria. (more…)


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Nice mask from Mali

Marka

Marka

Q:  I picked this and another mask up in Mali some years ago. Don’t know anything about it. Made of a fairly heavy dark wood and inset with what looks like bone or polished kernel and colored beading.  Any info greatly appreciated.   Rick, 606

A: Thanks for the pic of the lovely mask, despite that strong background it must compete with. (more…)


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Another African hybrid

West Africa

West Africa

Q: I found this mask in the back of a small shop in southern Kenya. It is about 13 inches tall, 10 inches wide, and 5 inches deep. The mask seems to be made of a dark wood, perhaps ebony, and has what appears to be small amounts of clay inside. The carving technique leaves flattish hexagonal shapes all over the mask. I don’t know much about it, but I’ve heard that you really know your stuff.

A: Nice looking mask. (more…)


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It certainly is African

Congo area

Congo area

Q: I obtained this from a friend, who’s great uncle lived in Africa and collected various weapons, musical instruments, and of course mask. The white that outlines the eyes, ears, and mouth is some sort of gritty paint that can be scratched off. The mask is about 15 inches tall including the burlap top( 9 inches from the top of the forehead to chin) it is 7 and 1/2 inches across. The cone on the top seems to be made of straw and covered with burlap. Would love to know where it originated from and its purpose …if in fact it is an authentic mask. Thanks in advance for you time and assistance. Angie, 600

A: Thanks for the pictures and description. (more…)


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Traditional masquerade continues to evolve

African-Nigerian-Postman-aLook at this wonderful postman mask from Nigeria. The guy looks like an Indian immigrant, and his cap seems to have the USPS logo on it. Times are changing. Actually, traditional African art has been changing for a long time. Two great books to read: Africa Explores by Susan Vogel and Maske by Phyllis Galembo.


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