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Chinese theater mask

female character

female character

Q:  I bought at a flee market.The material is carved wood, lacquered, and about 20 cm high.  Enrico, 809

A: This is a mask for the Chen He theater of the Hu Nan district in China.  In the Ming dynasty, immigrants from Jiang Xi settled in the then barren land along the river of Chen He.  (more…)


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Well known Guatemalan mask

Tecu Uman

Tecu Uman

Q:  I inherited this mask from my grandfather who was an art dealer and collector.  He collected African masks, but I doubt this is one.  He was born in Canada in the late 19th century, but came to settle in Riverside California.  When he married, he and his family lived in Beverly Hills where he had a gallery.  He constantly flew back and forth to Paris collecting and selling lithographs and anything Picasso.  I have no idea where he acquired this mask and how he came to give it me…but I’ve kept it all these years and am curious of its origin.  Is it Guatemalian?  808

A: It is Guatemalan, and it represents Tecu Uman, who was a famous Indian chief who fought the Conquistadores valiantly in the Battle of Quetzaltenango in 1524. (more…)


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Bird masks from different cultures

Go you Seahawks!

Go you Seahawks!

A friend sent me the following story. The two images are of the sea hawk, an impressive predator from our north west coast. One was created by an Indian carver who lived there about 200 years ago, and the other was designed recently by a Seattle artist. Does this comparison suggest anything? It tells me that folk art is always evolving. What do you think?

Seattle, WA– The mask that inspired the original Seahawks logo will be on display at the Burke Museum starting this Saturday. Historians trace it back to the Kwakwaka’wakw people of Vancouver Island. (more…)


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Primitive mask from the Himalayas

Nepal

Nepal

Q:  I picked up this mask recently from an expat in Thailand. He bought it from the Chitwan region in Nepal.  He said it is a reverse shaman mask. I believe the beard and eyebrows to be yak hair. It also has 2 yak teething measures L22cm x W12cm. Could you tell me anything about this?  Dan, 806

A:  This is easy to recognize as primitive folk art from Nepal. (more…)


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Unused Shishi mask from Japan, circa 1960

for the lion dance

for the lion dance

Q: The head alone is 7” wide; with the ears included, it’s 14” across. The ears are removable. I’m pretty sure the material is a lightweight wood. My grandmother probably bought this on trips during the 1950’s or 1960’s. She also collected Satsuma ceramics, of which I have a few pieces. I’ve attached photos of the box it came in. Frank, 805

A: It always comes with a moveable jaw. Though this one is about 75 years old it is in brand-new condition. The Japanese love to give masks as a gift. (more…)


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Morione mask from the Philippines

Roman Centurian

Roman Centurian

Q:  I purchased this mask at an estate sale about 5 years ago. I like that it is so realistic. It even had eyelashes.
I think it may be Mexican and there appears to be some staining on the inside forehead, cheeks and chin.
It is about 7 inches tall and 6 inches across. Thanks for any information you can give me.  Tom, 804

A:  It looks Mexican but is actually from the Philippine Islands. The eye holes and the rear give it away. (more…)


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Nice West African mask

Authentic?

Authentic?

Q:  The raffia material seems authentically darkened by use; there are stains of sweat around the inner side and at the chin; it does not smell of any varnish or recent burning; the patina is even but not too even; the cloth hood at the back fell off some time ago, and was clearly covered with some light blue material; the forehead was covered with blue color stains, too, but was worn away; the dirt on the ‘hair’ seems truly old; the bird on the head has a hole onto which something was attached at some time; the raffia is attached by very corroded nails which do not seem to have been hit by some hammer recently. The holes for wearing were clearly not used, instead, the mask would have been held in place by the hood and the strings. (more…)


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Carved wood lion mask from Asia

Bali?

Bali?

Q:  The mask I am sending pictures of is something I picked up in Bali a few weeks ago while on vacation. What do you think? It looks like it may have been used and had been hung for quite a while. By the way, I live and teach in Vientiane Laos and picked up a mask a few years ago at an expat bazaar. What should I be looking for in Laos and northern Thailand?  Lance, 802

A:  I have seen masks like this before but need some help in identifying the place of origin. (more…)


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Nicely sculpted Guatemalan mask

By the same carver?

By the same carver?

Q:   I have two masks I am interested in selling. These masks were purchased at an estate auction of a diplomat who lived in Alexandria, VA.  I bought them at an antiques shop.  The seller thinks they might be from Mexico, but he is uncertain.  I typically “pick” items for resale on ebay.  I would be interested in purchasing an appraisal for the masks, or I might be interested in selling them to you if you were interested.  Not sure of the best route to take.  Mike, 800

A:  As you know, submitting more than one mask is discouraged on the Mystery Mask blog. So are requests for monetary value. (more…)


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Authentic Tlingit ceremonial mask

Alaska or NWC Canada

Alaska or NWC Canada

Q:  I purchased this mask from an online website that had it listed as an “antique unknown mask”. Upon first glance, I thought that the piece may be a newer Indonesian reproduction of a northwest coast mask, but after closer inspection, it appears that the mask has a considerable amount of age and wear consistent with use. I would just like to know whether this is an authentic Native American mask or not. Also, the shape of the eyes look similar to the almond shape that I see on Yupik masks, however the lip and brown form of the mask is consistent with northwest coast style.  Trent, 800

A:  You are right. This is not a fake made in Indonesia or anywhere else. (more…)


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