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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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Mexico or Ecuador?

aaaMystrySolvd-736Q:  I purchased this mask at an arts and crafts fair here in Mexico City. I believe it is originally from the state of Michoacan, but it could be from Guerrero or Oaxaca. I am most interested in masks related to devils or death. I attempt to obtain mask that are “bailadas” which means masks that have been used in some sort of festivity or ritual.  Carlos, 736

A: Thanks for explaining the types of masks that interest you most. I’d love to see more of them. (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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Little trio of masks

Mexico, England, Italy

Mexico, England, Italy

Q:  In discussion with a friend, I took a picture of some of the masks on the wall. We were discussing the different origins of Carnival masks.  One looks like the Guy Fawkes mask… I think the other a Venice mask?  I came across your site, as we were trying to research. I unfortunately do not have detailed and separate photos. I know they are for fun and decorations, but if you could help identify where these masks are from, I would be very grateful. If not, I understand.  Ruhi, 734

A:  Seeing your photo of three store-bought plastic masks intrigued me. (more…)


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Northwest Coast mask repro

NWC mask

NWC mask

Q: Here are photos of some masks I have picked up in the last 8 months. What do you think about the bird one?  Jim, 733

A: The masks you sent all look old and used, but whether they are or not remains to be seen. Interest in collecting NWC masks goes back to the late 19th century. Indians started making masks for sale to tourists way before 1900 and have been doing so ever since. (more…)


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Turnips fly at the Jarramplas Festival

aaaMystrySolvd-732

flying turnips

Every January, on Saint Sebastian Day, the streets of Piornal, Spain, fill with residents armed with turnips, seeking to punish the Jarramplas. The Jarramplas is a devil-like character portrayed by a man wearing a costume made from colorful strips of fabric, a frightening mask, and body armor underneath. In a centuries-old tradition, he walks the streets and beats a drum while residents throw turnips at him as a punishment for stealing cattle. (more…)


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Hopi masks returning to America

Sacred Hopi mask

Sacred Hopi mask

A charity which bought 24 sacred Native American masks at a controversial Paris auction is to return them to the Hopi and Apache tribes in the US. The US-based Annenberg Foundation said it had spent a total of $530,000 at the auction of masks and other artifacts. Go to this link to see more.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-25331975

I applaud this effort by the Annenberg Foundation. (more…)


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Thai or Timorese mask?

aaaMystrySolvd-730Q:  I’ve had it about 25 years. It came from a guy who used to import furniture from Thailand and he just acquired it from some locals who got it many years earlier from a temple that was destroyed by fire. Whether or not that’s just a salesman patter or quite feasible– who knows? But I’ve looked through the net and haven’t got any more of a clue of what it is. It’s approx 32 by 19 inches and of heavy darkish wood. If you could shed some light on it I would be very grateful.  Alex, 730

A:  I haven’t seen a Thai mask like this. (more…)


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Day of the Dead mask

anywhere in Mexico

anywhere in Mexico

Q:  I purchased this mask at a rummage hall that deals in storage unit clean-outs. I like detail and scary images. I had a friend who works with Pacific northwest wood look at it and she couldn’t identify the type, just that it was really old. Dimensions are approx 8L” x 7.75W”x 4.75H” and the weight is 153g. Any information you provide would be wonderful. At this point I am clueless where to start looking.  Darrel, 729

B: It is a Mexican Day of the Dead mask that could be used to celebrate that very important holiday. (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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