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$100 discount prize

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On December 23, 2014 I posted a very interesting, unpainted balsa wood mask that is still unknown. Several people have commented, but so far no one knows what it is. The first person to come up with a correct ID will win a $100 discount on any mask of his or her choice in the for-sale section of MasksoftheWorld.com. (more…)


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Masks as art

ceramic art mask

ceramic art mask

This wonderful clay mask was done by my friend, Scott Paden, when he was an art student. (Today, many years later, he is Director of Preservation for OLBN, an architectural firm with offices in DC, New York and Beijing.)  725

Masks are a combination of sculpture and painting. Art teachers know that and will often assign masks as a class project that integrates social studies, literature, history and religion, and introduces the students to new materials such as papier mache, plaster, clay, metal, wood, etc. It can be a delight to see the results of these student efforts. (more…)


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Heavy Metal Mystery

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Q:  I recently purchased this copper mask online and was wondering what your thoughts regarding country of origin might be. It’s very well made and could easily be worn by an adult, though it’s fairly heavy. It’s similar in construction to the tin Bolivian masks I own, but not quite the same stylistically. Possibly Mexican or Peruvian?
I’m hoping one of your dedicated followers may have some insight. Thanks, Dan, 724

A:  That’s a hum dinger of a mask! (more…)


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Interesting Sardinian mask

aaaMystrySolvd-723Q: This unusual mask was a total mystery when I bought it, but now I would like to share it with you and your visitors. I got it for some 70 usd at a thrift shop. It had a tag with a telephone number and said ‘Bottega Artigiana per lo studio delle arti popolari’, and there is a logo branded in the inside. It was made by Gian Pietro Angelo in the town of Macomer on the island of Sardinia, Italy. I guess it is of Mediterranean pine tree, and has a bright red water color with dark varnish, which gives the mask an incredibly gloomy red color. (more…)


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Javanese masks

aaaMystrySolvd-722Q: I have two similar, but different  red Topeng masks that look to be authentic, used, ethnographic items. Are they the same character? It seems as if they might be, but if so, why the differences? Is it due to their disparities in age or from the original locations? Thanks, Nate, 722

A: The Mystery Mask blog is restricted to one mask per person, but I will make an exception with these two. (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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Boruca mask in need of fix up

Costa Rica

Costa Rica

Q:  Another mask found in a flea market– really well carved and sanded, unpainted, with eyes holes, so it could be worn, though uncomfortably as there is no place for nose. Just curious about its provenance. Looks Native American to me. The wood is tight grained and a soft brown color. I am stumped. Can you help?  Paule, 720

A:  This is a Devil mask from the Boruca (Borunca, Brunka), a small culture located in southwestern Costa Rica. (more…)


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Mwano Pwo mask

DRC or Angola

DRC or Angola

Both Lwena and the nearby Chokwe people of southern Democratic Republic of Congo use this type of mask. It represents the ideal female beauty, Mwano Pwo, and is danced with male counterparts, Chihongo, during initiation ceremonies and other important occasions to bring fertility and prosperity to the village. Most share the depiction of facial scarification patterns, filed teeth, fanciful and inventive hair styles. Despite the mask’s appearance and excellent quality of carving, it was probably made to be sold. This is good news because it means you can afford something just like it for your collection.

(more…)


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New Guinea mask

Sepik River area

Sepik River area

Q:  I’m interested in selling this. I inherited this mask many years ago and never displayed it.  I was told it was from Sepik River, New Giunea, with an origin date of 1800’s to early 1900’s. Let me know.  Thanks, David, 718

A:  Sepik River area of Papua New Guinea is the correct location for the location of its manufacture, but the accuracy of the origin date is very unlikely. (more…)


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The price of African masks

Dan, Ivory Coast

Dan, Ivory Coast

Q:  Bought this at garage sale..it looks and feels old and authentic. Made of wood and fabric and shells.  Robbie, 717

A:  One African art dealer calls this is a Dan Deangle mask from Ivory Coast in West Africa and goes on to say that (more…)


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