• Mexico

    Mexican mask with pointed cap?

      Q:  I bought this mask at a online auction here in Switzerland. It was declared as antique Tyrolean mask. For me it looked more like Mexican? It is made of very light weight wood and rather small. The size is 43 cm x 14 cm. Thank you very much for your help. Kind regards from Zurich.  David, 1827A: This  mask looks  more  Mexican  to  me  as  well, though I can’t be sure. I haven’t seen a mascara with this kind of cap before. I hope some viewer will make a comment.  

  • Misc

    Rare stingray mask?

    Q:  A friend gave me this mask when she was moving as I have always admired it.   It fits on top of your head rather than over the face.  It is about 21 inches long by 12 inches wide.  It looks like a manta or sting ray.  Any info?   Brad A:  I’m finally back to posting mystery masks. Yours is going to be difficult. I have never seen a stingray mask in my 50-year career of collecting. It is probably from someplace on the Atlantic Coast of West Africa. It seems to be new and and made for the tourist trade. But I can see in a river ceremony…

  • Bali & Java

    Repro of metal mask from Java

    Q:  Mask made of metal for you to look at. Any feedback information about this mask will be helpful. Thanks, Ezra.  1825 A:  This is also a nice reproduction of a Javanese mask. Like the previous Indian mask, it is something most collectors (like me) would want to keep. Of course, you should not pay a lot of money for it.  B-

  • India & Himalayas

    Repro of old India mask

      Q:  I recently bought this mask (or wall art) from a auction and I don’t know anything about it. It looks old. If you could tell me who it is supposed to be and what region it comes from I would be pleased.  John, 1824 A:  You made a good find, if you didn’t pay too much. It is highly detailed and very entertaining. I think it is Indian, but am not sure. Let’s hope some of our viewers can help us with that. What I can tell you is that it was made by a talented carver for commercial  purposes. This kind of business now is growing all…

  • Misc

    Mask for the Ijaw water spirit

    The Ijaw are a large ethnic group of about 14 million people in the delta region of Nigeria, West Africa. Traditional religious practices center around “Water spirits” in the Niger river, and around tribute to ancestors. Although the Ijaw are now practicing Catholicism, Anglicanism and Pentecostal , they also have elaborate traditional religious practices of their own. Veneration of ancestors plays a central role in Ijaw traditional religion, while water spirits, known as Owuamapu figure prominently in the Ijaw pantheon. In addition, the Ijaw practice a form of divination called Igbadai, in which recently deceased individuals are interrogated on the causes of their death. Ijaw religious beliefs hold that water spirits are like humans in having personal strengths and…

  • Guatemala

    The basic Guatemalan mask

    Q:  Will you share this mask with your viewers?  It’s an old Guatemalan mask, probably from late XIXth or early XXth century. This is suggested by the beautiful dark patina on the back with smooth edges, a kind of patina typical of old dense hardwood, here probably cedar. So different from the back of artificially aged recent masks. Another characteristic is the aspect of shelves of the carving of the back, found on very old masks only. It was probably a female character, suggested by the holes for earrings. Nevertheless, the same face could be used as male character, as it has been recently confirmed to me by Don Nery…

  • Africa

    Pende African buffalo mask

    There are several Pende masks on MasksoftheWorld.com. This is the most famous one. It is extremely wide. With big, dramatic eyes on an abstracted design that is perfectly symmetrical. You will never forget it. This is the kind of African art that stunned Europe in the 1800’s. Sharing both a masquerade and an architectural function, the panya ngombe mask of the Eastern or Kasai Pende signifies a wild buffalo, yet in performance it is the mask that collects offerings at the end of initiation festivities. Versions of this mask known as kenene decorate the lintel on a paramount chief’s dwelling.

  • Africa

    Typical African masks bought by beginners

    Q:  I fell in love with masks (especially from Africa) after travelling through South Africa. Then I started to buy and collect some. This is my very first mask, which I bought at an auction. I have no idea which country or region it belongs to, or if it could be something authentic or not. Maybe you have an answer for me.  Best regards, Katja  1820 A:  There are many wood carvers in Africa because it is so hard to find descent paying jobs. Every year those people make hundreds of thousands of tribal masks and other carvings for tourists and collectors. Sometimes the masks are as good as the…

  • Mexico

    Olmec carved stone mask

    The Olmec, whose heartland was located in present-day Mexico from 1200-400 B.C., excelled in creating fine greenstone sculptures. From the middle of the 11th century B.C. to the Spanish Conquest in the 16th century, green and blue colored stones were esteemed across Mesoamerica for their exceptional luster and translucency. The Olmec especially valued the bluish color of this jadeite mask. Jadeite, a rare variety of greenstone, occurs naturally in very few places around the world.  1819 Despite the concave depression, this mask was not made to be worn on the face, at least not by the living. Unlike the earlobes, which feature small holes, neither the eyes nor the mouth…

  • Guatemala

    Tecun Uman mask from Guatemala

    Q:  I bought this mask about 13 years ago from a small antique store for $120 and realized it was Guatemalan but was confused about parrots and it being the white man and also wondered how old it might be and what it might be worth roughly. It is 10 1/2 ” by 7″ in size.  Jenny, 1817 A:  This colorful mask was made for The Dance of the Conquest, which has been used in Guatemalan culture to tell the legend of Pedro de Alvarado’s conquest of the indigenous people’s of Guatemala and the defeat of the last Mayan chief, Tecún Umán. In accordance with traditional styling Tecun is depicted…