• India & Himalayas

    Colorful Mahakala from the Himalayas

    Q:  I was wondering if you can provide me with any information on this mask that I purchased in a collection of four masks. Like the others this one is marked on the underside.  Russel, 987 A:  This mask is very decorative, even if it isn’t well made.  It is a traditional Mahakala from the Himalayan region, where it is quite common in Buddhist performances and for sale to tourists. You can find these easily and they are often quite cheap.   C

  • Africa

    Beautiful Igbo Maiden

    Q:  I bought this one from you a few years back. It has a chip broken off on the back. My guess is my cleaning service might be responsible for that…. Can’t be seen from the front.  Mark, 986 A:  Called an Okoroshi, this handsome mask represents a young woman from the Igbo people of Nigeria. Her coiffure in three parts is composed of rolled braids. But what is really special is her twisted smile. You rarely see one this amusing. Danced at the Okoroshi masquerade during the rainy season, is the opposite of the dark ugly males. I love it.  B+

  • Africa

    Kuba nyet mask

    Q:  I bought this mask for $10 from the Berner’s Auction Gallery in Springfield Ohio. I cannot identify it and believe it may be an Indonesian or Ghanian copy. It measures approximately 18″ long and has cowrie shells and beads in addition to the pigments. Could you help me identify it? Thank you so very much.  Irene,985 A:  This mask from the Kuba people in the Democratic Republic of Congo is generally called a nyet. Horns were added to a mask for the image of power and strength. It has a nice colorful appearance and is further embellished with beadwork and cowries. I think the masks is quite desirable even…

  • Mexico

    Strange Mexican mask

    Q:  I recently acquired three Mexican (?) masks from an estate sale.  My understanding is that the collector had originally bought them in the 60’s, though I cannot confirm that, nor do I know the age of the masks at the time of purchase.  Brian, 984 A:  Thanks for sending the excellent photos. Two of the masks would be classified as Mexican decoratives, which means they were made for sale to tourists or art collectors. This one is more interesting. It is thinly carved, which is ideal for actual usage, but there are no holes for attachment to the dancer’s head. Some other questions… Why was it so quickly repainted?…

  • Oceania

    Sepic River area mask

    Q:  (I can only find the photos of this mask from Martha, not her message. Hopefully, she can add something of interest.)  983 A:  This is a example of an ancestor mask from the Lower Sepic River area of Papua New Guinea. It is a little rough and probably artificially aged for the tourist trade, but it is a classic design that would look good on the wall.  B Save Save

  • Africa

    Another Senufo Kpelie mask

    Q:  This was my Father’s and I have no idea where he got it. He had several other masks and pieces of art that were definitely just decoration. This one is different from the rest which raised my curiosity level. Rather small in size but it does fit over my face.  Gary, 982 A:  Your mask is called a Kpelie and comes from the Senufo people of Ivory Coast. These refined face masks represent women, are danced by men, and are usually associated with the Poro association. Called “Beautiful Lady” or Kpelie, they come with many variations, with rich and complex symbolism. There are other Kpelies in the blog archives.…

  • Native America

    NWC Indian Raven Mask

    Q:  I have a handful more in storage that I can get at but it will take a bit of searching.  One in particular has real teeth that I think is just delightful.  Attached for now is the Canadian signed one.  I just now looked at my other photos and they are awful so will have to get the husband to do better for me.  Let me know what you think.  Melissa, 981 A:  The pic you sent is a tradition raven mask from one of the Indian cultures that inhabit the Northwest Pacific Coast of America and British Columbia. The wonderful folk art made by those various tribes for ceremony and…

  • Mexico

    Mexican creativity continued

    Q:  Aside from the very excellent Mexican masks I have bought from you recently, I have made several other purchases.  Attached are photos of seven of them, all Mexican.  I am keeping the Cora mask and the Guerrero tigres 3 and 4 for my collection. The others will be sold.  Aaron, 980 A:  Cora masks are representative of ancestors and used in a Holy Week ceremony of boys entering adulthood. Called Judios, the dancers paint their bodies and wear papier mache masks that all look much different from each other. At the end of the ceremony the masks are destroyed. That is why we don’t often see these wildly creative masks on…

  • Mexico

    Unusual Mexican Tigre Mask

    Q:    I thought this Tigre was really interesting.  It is made of burlap and has real teeth sewn on.  The eyes are mirrors.  I’ve never seen one like that before.  It is from the state of Guerrero.  Aaron, 979 A:  What a cool Jaguar.  (Tigre is the local nick name. ) Or is this striped version supposed to be a real tiger? This unusual item is something any Mexican mask enthusiast would love. Burlap masks are very rare.  If you go to this blog’s “Mexico” category you can see several different Tigres. There are many, many more!  Mexican carvers are the world’s most imaginative in my opinion.  A