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Another mystery mask from West Africa

more info needed

more info needed

Q:  I have this mask I recently purchased.  All I know is the original owner got it in South Africa in the 1980s. It is about 9 inches tall. Any help would be great.  David, 818

A:  Sorry, but I can’t help you much other than to say it has the characteristics of several cultures from different parts of West Africa. Though helmet style in construction, it is too small to have been made for actual use. Probably it was intended for sale as a souvenir. (more…)


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A version of the Senufo Kpelie mask

West Africa

West Africa

Q:  This mask belongs to a doctor friend who is suffering from dementia. He worked in Cameroon in the 1970s so the mask may come from that area. Unfortunately he can no longer tell me where he got it. Can you help?  Dr. G., 817

A:  Called a Kpelie, these easy to recognize masks are a creation of the Senufo people who inhabit northern Ivory Coast. (more…)


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Guro Mamiwata mask

Ivory Coast

Ivory Coast

Q:  Thank you for the help on the Dan mask yesterday. I told my friend about your website and the info you provided, and that it was a great help. He gave me this cool snake mask to figure out. Have you ever seen one like this? It measures 13″ x 2 1/2″ x 7″ and is carved wood.  Thad’s friend, 814

A:  I’m delighted to present this mask on the blog because it proves how creative African carvers can be. A mask with matching snakes crawling out of each nostril, and with great sculptural artistry, is seldom seen. (more…)


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Dan Deangle masks are very popular

Ivory Coast

Ivory Coast

Q:  I got this mask from an antique dealer who told me it was from the Ivory Coast but I can’t find too may with the beard. 11″ tall x 7″ wide.  Wood has smooth finish on the front and unfinished back.  12 holes in the back. Leather patches under the eyes. Any help would be great. Thad, 813

A: There are regional variations among the masks of the Dan people who live in the western part of Ivory Coast and eastern Liberia, but they are generally characterized by a concave face, a pointed chin, a protruding mouth, an upturned nose and a high-domed forehead. (more…)


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Unusual African mask

Where?

Where?

Q:  I bought this mask from the German eBay last year for 15 euros. No info was provided and I have yet to find out anything about it. I would guess African and Ivory Coast. The backside does seem somewhat polished on the contact points. Thanks for any info in advance, you are a gent.  Jim, 810

A:  If I had to pick an area of Africa where it could come from it would be the northern DRC, formerly the Belgium Congo. (more…)


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Nice West African mask

Authentic?

Authentic?

Q:  The raffia material seems authentically darkened by use; there are stains of sweat around the inner side and at the chin; it does not smell of any varnish or recent burning; the patina is even but not too even; the cloth hood at the back fell off some time ago, and was clearly covered with some light blue material; the forehead was covered with blue color stains, too, but was worn away; the dirt on the ‘hair’ seems truly old; the bird on the head has a hole onto which something was attached at some time; the raffia is attached by very corroded nails which do not seem to have been hit by some hammer recently. The holes for wearing were clearly not used, instead, the mask would have been held in place by the hood and the strings. (more…)


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West African mask from somewhere

Not the Congo

Not the Congo

Q:  I recently purchased this wooden mast at auction because I found it quite striking. The mask is 24″ tall and was described as an old Songye Congo carved wooden Kifwebe mask with an unusual animal crest.  I would greatly appreciate your opinion of the mask and it’s description.  Jason, 798

A:  It is not a Songye Kifwebe mask. Nor does it resemble the work done by any of the various tribes occupying the Congo basin. The best I can tell you is that it probably was made somewhere in West Africa. It looks old and used, but almost all of the African masks we see on the market have been artificially aged to make them more appealing to the tourist market. (more…)


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African mask with moving mouth

Ogoni people, Nigeria

Ogoni people, Nigeria

Q:  I bought this mask on a car boot sale simply because I liked it and found it very interesting. I have tried to find out a bit about it with not much luck. Could this be an African maiden mask?  I would appreciate any information you can give me. Jude, 796

A:  This is an Elu mask with hinged jaw from the Ogoni people of southern Nigeria, Africa’s most populated country. (more…)


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Female Kifwebe mask from the Songye

Congo area

Congo area

Q:  I found this with a collection of 30 or so other masks at a yard sale. The seller said they were “very old” and had come from Sudan. Some of the other masks have a distinct smoke odor (but not this mask). Measures approximately 16.5″ x 13″ x 7″   Rebecca, 790

A:  The grooved pattern on the face of the mask is a common characteristic of a female Kifwebe mask from the Songye tribe of the Democratic Republic of Congo. (more…)


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Maiden Spirit mask from the Igbo

Southern Nigeria

Southern Nigeria

Q:  I collect masks from countries I visit and have a small collection of 9 at the moment (and hopefully growing).
However, my Nan volunteers at a British Heart Foundation shop and had a wooden mask bought in and has got it for me. I usually like to know where the masks are from. Would there be any way for me to find out where this one is from?  Sophie, 789

A:  That’s what we’re here for. Learning about the mask increases the pleasure of collecting. (more…)


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