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Here is a real mystery

strange wood mask

strange wood mask

Q:  I’ve picked up two masks recently. One is really unusual. It looks carved but almost like another skin substance has been placed over the face. It has corn type hair and big teeth. Pretty weird stuff.  Eileen, 667

A:  Far out! (more…)


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Deformity masks heal the sick

Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka

Q:  I found this at a thrift shop in Boca Raton. So it is likely completely out of context. They didn’t want much for it, so I bought it, but I can’t really figure out where it is from? It is very small, more of a decorative carving at 6″ X 4″.  Rick,

A:  You found an exorcism mask from Sri Lanka. (more…)


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Unusual carved wood bird

Mystery Bird Mask

Mystery Bird Mask

Q:  Thanks again for doing that quick assessment for us here. I’m not sure what will happen with the masks, but your information is extremely helpful in deciding. I have another question if you wouldn’t mind. I now have one more mask. Is there anything you can tell me about this piece? I don’t intend to sell it. I just really liked it and am curious if I can learn anything about it.  Lynn, 665

I’m not sure about this one. (more…)


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A Magic Dragon from the Himalayans

Bhutanese Devil mask

Bhutanese Devil mask

Q:  Here is the Bhutan dragon mask I bought a couple of years ago. It is about a foot long. The black strap you see in the photo I added and the mask sits more on top of your head then in front of it. I have seen this of other photos of Bhutanese mask wearers. Also you see through the mouth of the mask because is sits on your fore head and just in front of your eyes. It is an Asian style dragon that has the branched horns and thin white whiskers, but what is cool is the typical mustache that many Bhutanese men wear.  Ray, 664

A:  Your comments are helpful. (more…)


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Believe it or not

Executioner's mask

Executioner’s mask

Q:  I just got back from the U.K., and there was an amazing medieval executioner’s mask in the Tower of London, but it was black on a black background with glass in front and very low light, so I wasn’t able to get a good photo (tripod would have been impossible because of the massive crowds of people). But someone got a relatively good shot of it and posted it, so here it is.  Aaron, 663

A:  The world of masquerade can be a wild and crazy place. (more…)


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Old monkey mask from SW China

Chinese Nuo mask

Chinese Nuo mask

Every so often I plan to repeat one of my favorite masks posted years back. This one is a Nuo monkey mask from Jinguan village, Anshun district, Guizhou provincial territory. It’s an 8.3 inch thin carving with a sturdy native repair. The old Nuo mask was obviously used for a great many years and the wear has resulted in a wonderful patina. The monkey’s face is portrayed with deftly carved lines and each eye is highlighted with a  metal tack. In my opinion– Chinese folk art at its best.

Masks like this are becoming hard to find. (more…)


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Where did the snakes come from?

Mexican decorative

Mexican decorative

Q:  I just found this mask at an estate sale.  I have no information about it and cannot find anything similar online. I’m speculating that it is old and authentic. Any information would be immensely helpful in appraising it.   Lori, 661

A:  It is common for people to speculate that a carved wood mask may have considerable monetary value. (more…)


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Interesting but unusual

Maybe Burkina Faso

Maybe Burkina Faso

Q:  I bought this on ebay years ago. I know nothing about masks, but I like all things old! It is developing significant cracks. There are several small holes that look like they could possibly accommodate feathers of some sort. There are also two small holes on each side that probably were used to attach some sort of string or strap to wear the mask.The mask measures 19 inches by 7 inches. I’m not sure about the type of wood, but it is very heavy. any help would be greatly appreciated.  Chris, 660

A:  The Bwa people of Burkina Faso in West Afrrica is a wild guess, (more…)


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Some African masks are scary

Ivory Coast

Ivory Coast

A:  This mask was given to me by my mother-in-law who lived in the Ivory Coast from 1948 – 1993. She expressed the rarity of the mask but never explained which tribe it came from. It is 15 1/2 inches from ear tip to ear tip and 11 1/2 inches from top to bottom. My wife’s parents were great collectors of antique African art and when they gave me this mask, they intimated that it was one of the nicer pieces in their collection. Can you please try and identify where the mask came from and if it is truly rare, thanks.  Gary, 659

B: This is called a Kaogle mask (more…)


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Excellent example of PNG art

Sepik River Mask

Sepik River Mask

Q:  I bought this Mask and I would like to know where it came from. It is 31 inches long I bought it from a friend who inherited it for $100.
I will send the back picture in a minute.Thank you.  Jean, 658

A:  You lucked into a nice example of an ancestor spirit mask from one of the tribes living in the Sepik River area of Papua New Guinea. (more…)


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