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Well-known African mask

Cameroon Grasslands

Cameroon Grasslands

Bamoun mask
Grassfields region, Cameroon
13 inches, wood
The Grassfields Cameroon, West Africa are one of the richer parts of Africa for masks and other forms of art. This dates back to the powerful kingdoms that dominated Cameroon two centuries ago. This mask is very typical of the Bamoun (Bamun) people for village ceremonies and secret society ritual. Today, mask making has grown to become a major income producer for the area. Here is an example that is well carved and in excellent condition.   Bob, 715

I just saw a much more expensive mask than this one, which is described in the “Mask for sale” section of our website. Then I searched more on the internet for this type of mask and found a wide range of prices. Why so much variation? Well, there is no short answer for that. What you want is a Bamoun (or Bamun, Mbum, Bafum, Bekom… sorry about that spelling) that looks good to you. It should remind you of something that could have been used by that ethnic group. Don’t worry about who owned it or what auction house sold it. That’s for the millionaires.


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Tourist masks can look good

West African souvenir

West African souvenir

Q:  I found this mask in an antique store in South Carolina.  Was curious what it represents. Thanks!  Rosalind, 713

A:  This is a decorative piece of art in the style of a Baule mask from Ivory Coast, West Africa. The real ones are called Ndomas by the Baule, and they are said to portray an honored person of the village who is celebrated during a ceremonial dance known as Mblo. (more…)


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Royal elephant mask

Bali people, Cameroon

Bali people, Cameroon

Q:  I live in Sydney, Australia, and I want to know if  you can please tell me about the origin, value and history of this wooden elephant mask. It has French Cameroon coins and shells imbedded on it. Please check attached photos.  Charbel, 712

A:  Large masks like this were made for the Bali ruling class of western Cameroon. (more…)


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Much larger Congo mask

DRC

DRC

Q:  Just wondering if you could kindly identify this mask for me. I came across it whilst in Africa. It came off a truck that was doing a trans-Africa tour approx 30 years ago. I believe it came from West Africa. It is wooden with a rafia beard and the size including beard is 137cm (wooden mask height only is 68cm), the width is 39cm, so it is quite big.  Paul, 704

A:  When it rains it pours Congo masks. This one is indeed big. Masks this large are made by African tribes occasionally. (more…)


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More from the Congo

Congo style

Congo style

Q:  I’d love your thoughts on this mask I recently bought at auction; it’s around 30cm in height and made from a fairly light weight wood. Could it be from Congo I wonder? Many thanks in advance.  Nicky, 703

A:  Yes, it could be from the Congo, and possibly from the same area as the Lwalu mask that just came in a few hours ago. So what I said previously applies to your mask as well. (more…)


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Interesting mask from the Congo

Lwalu

Lwalu

Q:  This mask was left in our home when we purchased it.  We are not collectors but are very intrigued, and who knows, this may start our hobby.  Can you tell us something about it? Thank you!!!  Machelle, 702

A: I think you are lucky. This is a good example of a used* mask from the Lwalu people from the West Kasai region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Here masks are used for various rites, plus brief performances to bring good luck before the hunt. (more…)


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Blind man’s mask

strange mask

strange mask

Q:  I bought this unusual African mask from a local dealer.  He told me it was about 100 years old and from the Ivory Coast.  The seller said it was made by the Yaware tribe and used in ceremonies where the magician needed to enter a very deep trance.  Apparently the lack of eye holes made that more possible.  He also said it was very rare and he’d never seen one like it before.  I’m particularly interested in the mouth with the sharp teeth.  I’d love to find out what spirits or creature this mask represents and what ceremonies it was used for.  I tried to google the Yaware tribe but came up with almost nothing.  The mask has a peculiar, frightening aura about it.  I’m guessing it might have been used to scare off evil spirits?  Would LOVE to know more.  Thank you for any information you can find.   Carlo, 697

A:  After searching there is little to tell. (more…)


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Big, beautiful croc

Burkina Fasso

Burkina Faso

Q:  I have what I think is a Bwa/Bobo crocodile mask that I was told was about 80 years old, from Burkina Faso.  I was wondering if I could send you a few photos of it to see what you might be able to tell me. The closest thing I could find on the web was this:  http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Fine-Old-African-Tribal-Mask-Nuna-Bobo-Crocodile-Mask-Burkina-Faso-3-1-2-feet-/321188759293.  Many thanks.  Laurie, 692

A:  That is such a handsome mask, and it is more attractive than the one on eBay. The seller wrote a good description so I’m going to share it with our readers. (more…)


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A favorite type of African mask

Gu mask from West Africa

Gu mask from West Africa

Q:  This mask looks like ebony wood.  It is 20″ x 9″ wide.  It was a gift from a friend who traveled extensively.  I have had it since the 1990’s.  Cheryl, 685

A:  We see thousands of masks of this basic design and, frankly, in never get tired of looking at them. Here is a little more information. (more…)


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Is it as old as it looks?

Lega Kayamba mask

Lega Kayamba mask

Q:  Please check out this mask. The seller says it is old (I know they always say this). If you want I can send you few more close-ups. Your opinion is very appreciated. Reminds Luba but these horns.. And also the stitches, were they made on purpose so the mask looks old? Or are they real? The mask has 2 holes at sides and 3 holes for the beard. This is Kigali, Rwanda. Thank you.  Sayn, 684

A:  It’s a horned Kayamba mask from the Lega people in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. (more…)


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