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The famous dollar mask

the masked Mark Wagner

Mark Wagner, artist

In the spirit of full disclosure, I must confess that the maker of this unusual mask is a neighbor of mine whom I admire and whose work I will unashamedly promote. The artist is Mark Wagner and he has become well known in the world of fine art for his collages crafted out of US currency– specifically the one dollar bill featuring The Father of Our Country, missing in this case. I think you’ll enjoy seeing more of his art at http://markwagnerinc.com/


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Mexican mask made of copper

hammered metal Devil

hammered metal Devil

Q:  Purchased at a swap meet in Texas.  Material seems to be copper with remnants of a cloth mesh backing.  Was told it was African, but no real idea.  LG, 762

A:  Your mask comes from just south of the border in La Parota, Guerrero. Masks like this were made for tourists visiting the mountains of Northeastern Guerrero since the early days. In 1981 a book called Mexican Masks was published and the author, Donald Cordry, said these large beaten-metal masks were used many years ago in a Rain-Petitioning Dance, but most collectors today know they are strictly decorative. They are attractive and some still show up in museums and a few collections. (more…)


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Yellow Guatemalan mask

Unusual Guatemalan mask

Unusual Guatemalan mask

Q:  I wonder if you could tell me anything about this mask. I purchased it at auction in a small town near Ottawa, Canada. It was described as a Victorian Carnival Mask. Thanks for your time, Rod, 761

A:  The best I can do is tell you it is probably from Guatemala. I have no idea what the character is or what part of the country it comes from. (more…)


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Iroquois whistler mask

False Face Society

False Face Society

Q:  I have attached 3 items and am interested in the name, age and what country each of them are from. Thank you.  John, 760

A:  This is a “Whistler” made in the style of the Iroquois False Face Society masks that have been used by Indians in the Northeastern part of America for many years. You can still buy new ones, as well as other styles, at many reservation tourist shops. (more…)


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Toma Poro Society mask

West Africa

West Africa

Q:  Bought with a lot of PNG material, but seems not to fit with them. 14 inches long. I’m mostly interested in masks from Oceania and Europe.  Kim, 759

A:  At first I did not recognize this mask, but I now realize it is a very simple version of the well-known masks used for boys participating in initiation rituals of the Poro Society throughout the Toma ethnic group located in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. (more…)


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Master carver of the Sierra de Puebla

Puebla, Mexico

Puebla, Mexico

Q:  I got this mask in a public house located near Cuetzalan, Puebla, in which is common to see several masks hanging on the wall. This a Teodoro Tacuepian creation. Actually, i was at his workshop in Zacapoaxtla, trying to acquire some masks, but he only had 2 masks on sale, a Pilatos and negrito. The technique and the particular shape of the nose tell me it’s a recent creation. With age his technique has become more rough. Now he is almost 100 years old and still working.  Yusef, 758

A:  That’s our man. Teodoro Tacuepian Galvan was born in 1911 and did not start carving until late in life. (more…)


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Rare old Chinese Nuo mask

Nuo theater general

Nuo theater general

This mask from the Maonan people of Guangxi Province in Southeaster China is carved wood 10.5 inches high and is middle to late 20th century. There are many unique aspects to this portrayal of a senior military general in the Nuo theater. Some of the wood surface has been left unpainted and there is a carefully carved figure on the headdress. And look at those wide open eyes!  757 (more…)


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Rough Guro antelope mask

Ivory Coast

Ivory Coast

Q:  What do you think of this hand carved work of African primitive art? Its modeled to depict a horned face with cut out openings at the eyes and has a warm patina. It is hardwood,18 inches tall, slightly cracked and chipped.   756

A:  I think it is African, perhaps an antelope mask from the Guro people of Ivory Coast. (more…)


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Indian folk art at its best

Ramayana mask

Ramayana mask

Q:  How can I find out where this mask is from? It is large enough to cover most of the wearer’s face and is made of hand sewn of leather, fabric, sequins and gold thread.
I’ve tried searching photos of masks from asia, south america and africa but can’t find anything that seems similar.  There are 3 others with the same coloring, shape and stress on eyes.  Cheryl, 755

A:  What a lovely piece, and a good example of Indian folk art at its best. (more…)


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One of many classic Tigres

Tigre mask, Oaxaca, Mexico

Tigre mask, Oaxaca, Mexico

Tigre is the word for jaguar in Mexican slang, and it was the apex predator for thousands of years until recently, when it finally became extinct throughout the country. It also plays an important role in Mexican mythology and shows up as a character in many folk dances. This mask is a Tigre for the Tejorones dance done in the Costa Chica area in the state of Oaxaca. Different versions of the jaguar-inspired mask are made throughout Mexico. (more…)


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