• Africa

    A well known mask from the Lega

    Q:  Here is an African Lega with beard. The mask is 5″ x 7.5″; and the beard extends 7″ below bottom of mask at shortest point.  Sue, 900 A:  The first photo was sent with several others. I thought I should share it with you because it is very popular with collectors. The Lega are a large ethnic group in the one of the largest countries of Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo.  Lega masks are used as initiation objects in the Bwami society. Unlike many masks in other African cultures, the masks of the Lega are not usually worn over the face, they are attached to the body, held…

  • Oceania

    Mask from Sepik River, PNG

    Q:  I came across this really interesting mask at an estate sale. They thought it might be Alaskan in origin. After i brought it home and did a little research of my own, i came across your website and from what i can tell i think it may be an example of a PNG Sepik River area mask.  Can you confirm or debunk this based on these pictures, and maybe give me an idea of how old you think it might be?  Eric, 899 You did your homework!  But now I want you to do more and try to find out how old this piece is. Mask made before the…

  • Mexico

    One of the great artists of Mexico

    Q:  Here are several photos from Suchitlan, including an old photograph of the Morenos who are all wearing the masks made by Don Herminio.  Pablo, 898 A:  The first photo is a coyote by the master maskmaker, Herminio Candelario of Suchitlan, Colima, in western Mexico. His father and his sons were/and are well known makers, but he was, in my opinion, the Picasso of Mexican masks.  A+ The second is an old photo of the big celebrations in Suchitlan’s Fiesta of the Animals. This revelry is in conjunction with the Blessing of the Animals. Participants wear masks representing all the animals of the land.  Animals of all types, from family…

  • Guatemala

    Guacamaya character from Guatemala

    Q:  Here is a rare mask of the central figure in the Guacamaya dance in Guatemala.  Jon, 897 A:  I love the look of this mask, even if it is a little rough. Here is what Jim Pieper has to say in his book Guatemala’s Masks & Drama,  “The Guacamaya is a very old dance, which is possibly pre-conquest, with little documentation. It tells the tale of a Mayan king who was turned into a parrot. This dance uses some of the largest carved masks in Mesoamerica. The dance is performed in May in Santa Cruz, Alta Verapaz.”

  • Mexico

    10 Mexican Must Haves

    The above mask is a female Catrin from the state of Tlaxcala Mexico is a country with many different masquerade traditions (usually called dances), and each of them features a number of different characters. Also important– these traditions are still being practiced so that many different Mexican masks are available to collectors. Because of this abundance you have the choice of various themes for your collection: types of characters, geography, ethnicity, construction material and so forth.  The following ten masks represent different types of characters used in the dances. More good news for people interested in building a collection: almost all antiques including Mexican masks are very low in price…

  • Europe

    Brighella from the Commedia dell’arte

    Q:   I have been busy today doing a mini masks photo-shoot for you. I am not a professional photographer I hope you don’t mind and if you would like me to retake any pictures of certain masks just ask. I am probably only able to send you a few at a time so get ready for your inbox to be full.  Kathleen, 895 A:  I decided to share this mask with our visitors because it is not something we see often.  Brighella is a male character from the Commedia dell’arte, which  is a form of theater with masked actors. It began in Italy in the 16th century and was responsible…

  • South America

    China Supay half-mask from Bolivia

    Q:  I have a real proclivity for Bolivian masks, and the three here are at least 20 years old.  The China Supay has seen a lot of use, and the foam on the back is nearly worn off.  Aaron, 894 A:  It is always a treat to share one of your latest acquisitions with our viewers. This is an excellent example of a classic Bolivian mask. The Bolivians take masquerade very seriously. Their huge carnival in Oruro and the big festival in La Paz have got to be among the most spectacular masquerades in the world. Interestingly, most of the masks in both cities are carefully crafted out of sheet…

  • Africa

    Unusual Bambara mask from Mali

    Q:  I have three masks that were purchased from a dealer in southern Indiana in 1973.  Two with detailed carving on the front, one with black paint.  All three are hand carved.  Thoughts?  Kevin, 893 A:  I only do single masks on the Ask the Mask Man blog. Of course, you are welcomed to submit another one in the next month. This one is very thinly carved, which is often a characteristic of those that are used, whereas the ones made to be sold as souvenirs and art are usually heavier. I also was impressed by the use of black lines to give emphasis to the carved decoration. This is…

  • India & Himalayas

    Mahakala mask from Nepal

    Q:  I’ve been searching for literally YEARS on this mask.  I cannot find any information.  it is really old wood, painted and bears a red stamp mark. I cant tell if its symbols or numbers, and I’m crossing my fingers you may be able to tell me something about it.  Its really odd and unique.  Walt, 892 A:  Your mask is a traditional Mahakala from the Himalayan region, where it is quite common in Buddhist performances and for sale to tourists. We know it is from Nepal because of the the red wax seal affixed by their customs service. There are Tibetan and Bhutanese Mahakalas that look very similar. It…

  • Africa

    Simple Gelede mask from Nigeria

    Q:   I have a hobby and find treasures so to speak for fun and have acquired a few masks. They are from an avid collector who passed away and I bought his items. Most were signed and I have kept my favorites. This particular mask is missing 3 rings from around the neck, but could it be an African womanhood initiation type mask?  Kathleen, 891 A:  Most of Kathleen’s masks are of high quality. I picked this one to share because it is from the Yoruba people, a very large ethnic group of  Nigeria as well as Benin in West Africa. She thought it might be a Bundu helmet mask…