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Have you seen this?

African metal headdress

African metal headdress

Q:  Does anyone know anything about this mask? It’s brass or bronze with an old patina and appears to have been worn over some kind of cloth headdress. Its believed to have come from the Mossi people of Burkina Faso and was bought from a “runner” about twenty-five years ago. It’s about 9 1/2 inches high. Any information will be greatly appreciated.  Gary, 751

A:  A week ago this was posted on the Yahoo discussion group, African_Arts. It was promptly answered with “It is a Lobi Headdress.” (more…)


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Bete war mask

Ivory Coast, Africa

Ivory Coast, Africa

Q:  I bought this mask at the Tucson Gem Show African Pavilion about 7 years ago. I don’t remember where it came from, or if I was ever told. I think I paid $140.00 for it.  It is one of three of my favorite masks.  Ira, 750

A:  It doesn’t matter a whole lot what it is or how much you paid, if you really like it. (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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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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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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Authentic, used African mask

West or Central Africa

West or Central Africa

Q:  I have three masks that my Mom got when working in the Ivory Coast in the 1960’s. I will submit the more outstanding one, the horned and somewhat furry mask. The masks are made out of wood. Do you happen to have more info on this type of mask?   Tatjana, 739

A:  I’m not a expert on African masks, but the three sharp photos you sent suggest the mask may have been used in culture for celebration or ritual. (more…)


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African woven mask or PNG?

aaaMystrySolvd-737Q:  I purchased this basket-woven mask this week at an estate auction in Plainfield, NH, and have no idea of where it is from or its history. Any ideas?  Karen, 737

A: At first your woven mask reminded my of a yam ceremony mask from Papua New Guinea, but the structure of the rear looks more like something from central Africa. (more…)


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Small West African mask

Guro, Ivory Coast

Guro, Ivory Coast

Q:  Could you please help identify this clay and raffia mask? It measures 15″ including the beard. Thanks very much!  Karen, 735

A: Could be from the Guro people of Ivory Coast. I think it shows well, with beautiful colors and a patina that seems old and used. But it is a little small and is made out of clay rather than wood.  (more…)


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To collect or not to collect

West Africa

West Africa

Q:  This mask from Africa is at least  50 years old.  I do not know more about it … bought it 20 years ago in a garage sale. I’m not a collector of masks. Thanks.  Louise, 728

A:  Thanks for the excellent photos. The mask is from somewhere in West African. It was designed with a combination of references to various cultural traditions… then made to look used and old. (more…)


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Happy New Year

4 kids from Ghana

4 kids from Ghana

This charming photo by Phyllis Galembo is called Four Children in Fancy Dress. It shows a Nobles Masquerade Group from Winneba, Ghana, taken in 2009. It comes from Maske, a book by the photographer that shows all sorts of African masks and costumes. You should treat yourself to this beautiful book. It is in print and not expensive.

Best wishes to all,  Bob, 721


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