My book writing continues. There will be about 200 masks in the Mexican section so it was hard to pick just one for the blog. It is a skull, but not one for Day of the Dead.
In Mexico, it is common during Semana Santa (Holy Week, the period from Palm Sunday through Easter Sunday) for there to be Easter pagents, depicting the capture and crucifixion of Christ. Those who pursue and torment Jesus are called by various names, depending on the town or region. In the state of San Luis Potosí these negative legions are called Judios (Juduses) or Fariseos (Pharisees). They demonstrate ignorant, unruly and evil behavior, led by their mentor, Judus. The masks are varied and inventive, and include skulls, monsters, Kings and Queens, soldiers, Bishops, animals, fallen women or caricatures of ordinary people. This is a classic skull mask from San Luis Potosí. The mask is 10 inches high and carved from very heavy wood. It appears to have been danced.
Q: The pictures I sent were my dad’s mask today it fell off the wall and landed face up on the floor it was about 5 to 6 feet from the wall when I turned it over my dad labeled it with the name Tambanan Devil Mask it was hanging on a wall 7-8 feet high!!!! It was eerie and I’ve had things happening since New Year’s Day 2014 and I’m trying to figure this out!!!! Susan, 609
A: Your dad bought a tourist mask made somewhere in Papua New Guinea. (more…)
Q: This is the way I think the mask was supposed to be worn. The wicker and leather cap on top of the head are held on with the chin strap. The grass and leather is very dry and fragile and I was reluctant to force anything into position. Thanks for any help you can give. I really appreciate it. This is a hard one to display. Maybe a wig stand? Hate to beat it up anymore, it really should be preserved to some degree. I feel it is old and authentic, but the wooden chin guard doesn’t seem to have the same sense of age. Don, 608
A: Your 3-piece mask ensemble seems to be from the Igbo people of Nigeria. (more…)
I’m working on a large reference book that will probably be called “Masks of the World.” (If you can think of a better idea for the title, please let me know.) Having just finished the Bali/Java section I though I’d share this one with you.
7.5 inches, wood
Mask collecting always has some surprises. Look at this wonderful little mask with its carvings on the crest, that very unusual mouth, and the way those simple parallel lines are used. It’s a shame we can’t identify the carver.
Q: I picked this and another mask up in Mali some years ago. Don’t know anything about it. Made of a fairly heavy dark wood and inset with what looks like bone or polished kernel and colored beading. Any info greatly appreciated. Rick, 606
A: Thanks for the pic of the lovely mask, despite that strong background it must compete with. (more…)
Q: I found this mask in the back of a small shop in southern Kenya. It is about 13 inches tall, 10 inches wide, and 5 inches deep. The mask seems to be made of a dark wood, perhaps ebony, and has what appears to be small amounts of clay inside. The carving technique leaves flattish hexagonal shapes all over the mask. I don’t know much about it, but I’ve heard that you really know your stuff.
A: Nice looking mask. (more…)
Q: Its big, (2+ feet tall), and heavy. The thing that has me on edge… someone took the time to carve out the back of this mask, yet it has no eye-holes. I cant imagine anyone (any culture) dancing something this heavy especially without a look-out. Moreover, if it was ever meant to be a passive shield tied somewhere etc.. then it wouldn’t likely be carved out on the reverse, right? Seems like an impressive fake, but not much else. Thoughts? Nate, 504
A: Of course, it could be a fake, but it could also be authentic. (more…)
Q: Just wanted to know about what type of mask it is and just about it in general. It is 26 length 19 width 9 depth cm. Jo, 603
A: This is a demon mask from the Monpa people of Bhutan or Arunachal Pradesh, which is in the Himalayan region. (more…)
Q: Bob, what are your thoughts on this little guy? I am surprised not to see fasteners, or some sort of unpainted seam at the back end of this for some hood for the dancer… that said, the details, such as the well carved eyes and fangs make me strongly assume this is authentic ethnographic and not tourist. Do they make a variant of these that are intended to be smaller/lighter, and not had the dancer (i.e. perhaps one that is more interactive with the audience?) This one is 8 inches long (11 including handles), 7 inches wide, 7.5 inches tall.
A: I have seen some that are about this size… (more…)
I thought you might enjoy seeing the masks I’ve acquired since we last talked. The Wayana mask was hard to find, and I’m being rewarded now with dried leaf flakes scattered all over my house. In the meantime, I’ve been editing my photos from Thailand and Cambodia, which include some amazing antique Khon masks from the National Museum in Bangkok and the Royal Palace and National Museum in Phnom Penh. I’ll show you those when they’re ready – nothing being produced today even comes close to those old ones. Aaron, 601
A: I love being kept up to date on your acquisitions. (more…)