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Pair of Chi Wara “masks”

female and male headdresses

female and male headdresses

I thought this photo of two Chi Wara headdresses, both male and female versions danced by the Bamana people of Mali, was something many of you would like to see. The photo comes from the collection at Virginia Union University and was part of an excellent string of emails on the African_Arts@yahoogroups.com titled “Do authentic Chi Wara headdresses ever include applied metal strips?”

Two things are accomplished by this. (more…)


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Art from the forests and mountains

Austrian folk mask

Austrian folk mask

Q:  I just bought this Austrian Mask for a great price.  Its not the 3rd or 4th German/Austrian mask that I’ve owned, that is carved in detail, carved to ergonomically be worn (such as the nose recess), yet has no holes, strings, or otherwise showing that its been used or was ever going to be used. Do you know why that is? Are they art first and wearable masks second? Left to the owner to attach strings themselves?  I find that odd.  Nathan, 654

A:  Folk masks have been carved in Southern Germany, Switzerland, Northern Italy and Austria for many centuries. (more…)


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Maybe old and used

West Africa

West Africa

Q:  I am fascinated by old items, but have no interest in commercial masks. This mask was found in an old explorer/adventurer estate auction. He had been traveling Africa on digs in the 50′s. I have little or no idea of the origin or age, but is sure it is not commercial, but an original.  653

A:  Based on the three beautiful photos you sent in I think there may be some collector interest in this mask. (more…)


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Emit mask from Thailand

Ruesi Pra Pom

Ruesi Pra Pom

Q: Here is the latest Ermit mask I found and it is probably the best one I got so far . Comes from the personal home shrine of a Thai person I met. It’s very funny how nobody pays attention to these particular masks. Most antique dealers here focus on traditional dance Khon masks but not on Ermit masks which happen to be more interesting and more powerful because they are still used in Shamanist-Brahmanist ceremonies. Feel free to use the pic for your book if you want.  Cheers , Stephff,  652

A:  Thanks for your help. (more…)


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A piece of primitive Himalayan art

Nepalese mask

Nepalese mask

Q:  Thanks so much for the feedback.  This mask might be another wall hanging, but I wanted to send it  to see if you can figure the origin.  I was thinking North India or Tibet?  And then again maybe Central America.  I’m just awful at this! Thanks so much in advance, Christine.  651

A:  I think you’re doing just fine. This is a tourist mask from Nepal which is right between North India and Tibet. (more…)


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Mexican decoratives can fool you

tourist mask

tourist mask

Q:  A friend of mine purchased this mask for me at a flea market. I believe it’s a Balinese mask but I have no idea what kind or what it represents or would be used for. I would like to find out this information if possible. Can you help?  Jack, 650

A: You have a double-faced Mexican tourist mask probably made in Guerrero. (more…)


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Beautiful mask from Bhutan

Lord Yama

Lord Yama

Q:  I know almost nothing about the Yama – I won it at an auction for very little. Aaron, 649

A:  Bhutan is able to support the art of fine mask-making, perhaps because it’s such a costly place to visit and the tourists have plenty of money to spend. This mask of Yama, Lord of the Underworld, is a beautiful example of what can still be purchased in that remote Himalayan country. (more…)


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The Dayak people’s favorite

Hudoq mask

Hudoq mask

Q:  I found this mask in a Chinese junk shop in Miri Borneo. I believe it to be pretty old but don’t know the story behind it. What or who does this represent. 16″ H, 11″ W.  Scott, 647

A:  It is from Borneo and is called a Hudoq mask. (more…)


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Unusual Lipiko helmet mask

Makonde Lipiko mask

Makonde Lipiko mask

Q:  You may remember me – I sold you the field-collected yellow Makonde mask from Mandela, Mozambique. (I did my fieldwork among the Makonde in 2004)  I think the Makonde mask with mustache and blue skull cap is pretty interesting and wonder if you have additional photos of it. Is it yours?  I’d love to know more about it, and see more views of it.  Thanks, Alex

A: I will send you more photos. (more…)


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Brunca Devil mask

Brunca, Costa Rica

Brunca, Costa Rica

Q:  This mask is from Rey Curre which has a little different style of carving than the carvers from Boruca village. Rey Curre carvers tend to stick with the older, traditional style masks. The villages are just a few miles apart.  It is danced and battle worn from the ceremonies.  Tom, 645

A:  Thanks for sharing this unusual Brunca mask with us. (more…)


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