Who, what, when or where?
Q: At first glance, I found the front so over dramatized that I assumed it was a tourist piece. Then the cracking/aging paint got my attention that this thing has considerable age. And then finally, I was in shock to see both the amount of patina and craftsmanship of the reverse side.This thing clearly has been danced heavily. The craftsmanship on the back had me initially thinking Japan. However, the tear-drop eyes make me think Korean. This is not a style of an Oni or devil I’ve ever equated to Japan. Ever seen Korean Devils? Can you pin-point this? Nate, 837
A: I don’t where this is from. China, Korea, Japan are all possibilities. And your photos are so clear I can tell it is an authentic artifact that was made and used a long time ago. (more…)
A reader sent in this great picture of a Koskimo character wearing a full-body fur garment, oversize gloves and mask of Hami (‘dangerous thing’) during the Numhlim ceremony.This guy is a Kwakiutl Indian from somewhere in British Columbia. The photo was taken by Edward Curtis in 1914. Ceremonies and meetings of Northwest Coast Indians could be quite dramatic.
Q: This mask was purchased from the estate of the daughter of a mask collector. It has his sticker. I was mot able to get his collection ledger. An African art dealer said it was not African. It is of ebony or a Dalbergia (Central American). I have never found anything that resembles it in my search. It has worn white chin whiskers. It was probably collected in the 1950’s. Kenneth, 833
A: Handsome tourist mask have been made in China and the Himalayas since the 19th century. (more…)
Q: Just acquired this mask from a third party who travel to Oaxaca frequently. In one of the many trips, they purchased this mask. Seeking any information, confirmation (region) or opinions. The mask measures 7.5″ h 5.5″ w 4.5 d and is made of hard wood. There are some minor signs of termite damage. Louis, 832
A: The Huave people occupy a few small villages in Western Oaxaca close to the Pacific Coast of Mexico. They make a lot of unpainted wooden masks, often decorated with armadillo shell and bristles of animal hair. (more…)
Have you seen this man?
Q: This mask looks familiar, but I can’t quite place it. It definitely seems Himalayan. Is it maybe a Monpa mask from Tibet? I’d love to get your opinion. Aaron, 831
A: I don’t think it is Himalayan. Perhaps a little further south in India, maybe all the way to Sri Lanka. I would be glad to put it on the Mystery Mask blog, especially if you would send a little more info.
Then Aaron writes: I don’t think it’s Sri Lankan. (more…)
2 from same place?
Q: We ended up with two masks we could not identify. Could you help us out please. Thanks so much,
Norb (Visitors should know that Norb is constantly visiting estate auctions where he always wins the best items for a reasonable price. You can visit his store at www.estateauctionsinc.com 830
A: I can’t remember ever seeing masks like these two. Obviously, they are from the same culture and time period. I suspect they were used in culture, perhaps a long time ago. If I had to make a guess, I’d say they’re both from Alaska. If that turns out to be true, they would be of great interest to serious collectors. (more…)
Satyr mask for Fasching
Q: The mask in the photos was purchased at an auction. The husband and wife were both university professors – she taught art and he taught history. They had many South American and American Southwest items. They also had a lot of older Chinese and Japan pieces. We purchased a Thai mask, but this one was intriguing. There was no provenance as there was no family left to validate where this mask was from. The mask measures (measuring from the back side) 9.5″ tall and 7.25″ wide. This does not include the trailing mustache. (more…)
Q: Hi Bob, I found this small mask at an estate sale this weekend. It is made of carved wood and measures 8″ in length, 4.5″ in width and 3″ in depth. The owner described it as a “Wisdom mask from the Congo”. Any further information would be much appreciated.
Thanks, Simon, 828
A: Yes, this mask looks like it came from the Congo region. Perhaps it is a “wisdom mask.” But I don’t think we can attribute it to any particular culture or think of it as a true example of something that would have been used in a ceremony or celebration. C (more…)
Saint Thomas, Vera Cruz
Here is a mask of St. Thomas that is from Xochiatipan, Hidalgo, Mexico. On 8/28 you saw a skull mask from Guerrero, Mexico, a Devil from nearby Michoacan, a Guerrero Jaguar, and a whore from Veracruz. If you want to know more about Mexican masks just go to the column on the right and click on “Mexico.” You’ll see 41 recently posted blogs about masks from that same fascinating country. (more…)
Opens Sat., Sept. 12
Masks of Mexico will be on view Sept. 12 – Nov. 8, 2015, at the Lancaster Museum of Art in downtown Lancaster, PA. Here is the museum’s description of the show.
This exhibit focuses on the masks that are used in the many rituals and celebrations performed in the cities and small rural villages throughout Mexico’s various states. The majority of states with traditions of using masks are represented in this exhibit through more than 200 masks. Grouping all these works together reveal the various forms, styles and colors that Mexican carvers employ. The masks are made from carved wood, papier-mache, leather, cloth, ceramic, metal and other materials and display the range in skill of the artists from untrained to professional carvers. (more…)