• Africa

    Happy New Year

    This charming photo by Phyllis Galembo is called Four Children in Fancy Dress. It shows a Nobles Masquerade Group from Winneba, Ghana, taken in 2009. It comes from Maske, a book by the photographer that shows all sorts of African masks and costumes. You should treat yourself to this beautiful book. It is in print and not expensive. Best wishes to all,  Bob, 721

  • Caribbean

    Boruca mask in need of fix up

    Q:  Another mask found in a flea market– really well carved and sanded, unpainted, with eyes holes, so it could be worn, though uncomfortably as there is no place for nose. Just curious about its provenance. Looks Native American to me. The wood is tight grained and a soft brown color. I am stumped. Can you help?  Paule, 720 A:  This is a Devil mask from the Boruca (Borunca, Brunka), a small culture located in southwestern Costa Rica.

  • Africa

    Mwano Pwo mask

    Both Lwena and the nearby Chokwe people of southern Democratic Republic of Congo use this type of mask. It represents the ideal female beauty, Mwano Pwo, and is danced with male counterparts, Chihongo, during initiation ceremonies and other important occasions to bring fertility and prosperity to the village. Most share the depiction of facial scarification patterns, filed teeth, fanciful and inventive hair styles. Despite the mask’s appearance and excellent quality of carving, it was probably made to be sold. This is good news because it means you can afford something just like it for your collection.

  • East Asia

    New Guinea mask

    Q:  I’m interested in selling this. I inherited this mask many years ago and never displayed it.  I was told it was from Sepik River, New Giunea, with an origin date of 1800’s to early 1900’s. Let me know.  Thanks, David, 718 A:  Sepik River area of Papua New Guinea is the correct location for the location of its manufacture, but the accuracy of the origin date is very unlikely.

  • Africa

    Well-known African mask

    Bamoun mask Grassfields region, Cameroon 13 inches, wood The Grassfields Cameroon, West Africa are one of the richer parts of Africa for masks and other forms of art. This dates back to the powerful kingdoms that dominated Cameroon two centuries ago. This mask is very typical of the Bamoun (Bamun) people for village ceremonies and secret society ritual. Today, mask making has grown to become a major income producer for the area. Here is an example that is well carved and in excellent condition.   Bob, 715 I just saw a much more expensive mask than this one, which is described in the “Mask for sale” section of our website. Then…

  • Bali & Java

    Good old or bad old?

    Q:  I’m trying to find out where from and how old this mask is that my wife inherited. The mask’s parameters are as follows: height              10″ width                 8″ leather beard    14″     Thanks, Pierre, 714 A:  This is a character from the classic dance dramas of Bali. It probably isn’t very old. I say that because if a mask is used for a long time it slowly develops wear and a patina on its surface. This mask is faded, the paint is chipping off and three of the four fangs are broken off. It…

  • Africa

    Tourist masks can look good

    Q:  I found this mask in an antique store in South Carolina.  Was curious what it represents. Thanks!  Rosalind, 713 A:  This is a decorative piece of art in the style of a Baule mask from Ivory Coast, West Africa. The real ones are called Ndomas by the Baule, and they are said to portray an honored person of the village who is celebrated during a ceremonial dance known as Mblo.

  • Africa

    Royal elephant mask

    Q:  I live in Sydney, Australia, and I want to know if  you can please tell me about the origin, value and history of this wooden elephant mask. It has French Cameroon coins and shells imbedded on it. Please check attached photos.  Charbel, 712 A:  Large masks like this were made for the Bali ruling class of western Cameroon.

  • East Asia

    Could be controversial

    Q:  Here is what I assume is an antique, turn-of-the-century, racist, decorative mask from Japan. Just like Black Americana pokes fun at ethnic features, so does this mask. Beyond what might be the typical big lips, the creator went further to highlight nose-hairs, and crooked eyes to boot. The nose appears wider and more broad than an Asian feature, and in that way, also seems to strongly suggest Black heritage. Uniquely signed on the reverse in two colors… I’ve yet to find a translator. Its made of a hardwood, and appears to have aged patina within its shellac coating. Its a bit smaller than a typical mask… and fits my…