• Caribbean

    The fabulous Vejigante

    Q:  Apologies for attaching incorrect photos. Here are jpegs of the the front, back and side of the mask. Please tell me whatever you can about this beautiful mask. Thank you.  Marcey, 1047 A:  Vejigantes are from Ponce, Puero Rico, and are among the most creative masks used for carnival parades around the world. This one was done by Miguel Caraballo. A larger one is shown on post #745. The Vejigante represents the evil Moors who battled St. James in Spain hundreds of years ago. Its design and colors are more African than European, which demonstrates the influence of blacks in the Caribbean.  A- Save

  • Mexico

    Highly decorated Mexican mask

    Q:  This one is still a mystery. It appears to be a very old Mexican mask, but I’ve never seen one painted like this. It was purchased at an online auction many years ago, and the seller knew very little about it. Perhaps one of the regular visitors to your site can identify it.  Dan, 1046 A:  It’s a great little mask. My guess is that it was an old, beat up mask from Hidalgo that an artist decided to improve for the collector market. The Blessed Virgin, skulls and flowers are done in a cartoon technique that is very Mexican. Then the whole thing was coated with tinted varnish.…

  • Mexico

    Leather mask from Mexico

    Q:  This is a leather mask I think from Indonesia or Bali but it is one from Dads inheritance and I don’t know any more than that. It shows wear like it has been used over the years. I know, I played with it when I was a kid.  Rick, 1045 A:  I could take a wild guess and say it is Maravilla, the dog character in the Tecuani dance performed by the Nahua people of Guerrero. But leather masks are made in several other states of Mexico as well. When I enlarged your excellent pictures I though I could detect a coating of tinted varnish. That would suggest it…

  • Africa

    Small mask from Congo

    Q:  Any information  you can provide about my mask is greatly appreciated. I acquired it in the 1980’s on the border of Rwanda and Zaire from a gentleman selling masks door to door.  Thank You!  Brian, 1044 A: The Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire) is Africa’s largest country and it contains many different cultures over its vast area of forested land. This mask seems to combine the stylistic elements of several of those tribes. Perhaps some of you will disagree, but I think it was made to sell to tourists or for export rather than usage. Still, it should be desirable to collectors. Recently someone sent in another…

  • East Asia

    Giant Shinshu mask from Japan

    Q:  This is a very large paper mache mask.  It is Japanese and comes from the Shinshu region.  Size is 52cm W x 66cm H.  There is a collection of 12 – one for each month.  The one I have is July.  I bought it close to 30 years ago.  Apparently they were to protect people when traveling.  The Japanese name is 道神面 (road/god/mask).  There are also smaller masks in wood, with the same designs.  I have searched on the net to see if they are still sold, however, I have been unable to find any – only books in Japanese about the artist and his works. Here is a…

  • Native America

    Navajo Mystery Mask… or?

    Q:   I have a mystery mask for you.  A contact in Arizona is offering me this mask, claiming it is a Navajo mask from the mid-1800s.  The age seems very unlikely (late 1800s I suppose is possible), but in any case I’m confused about the type.  The only Navajo mask I know is the Yeibichai, and this doesn’t look like any Yeibichai I’ve ever seen, either in a live performance on a Diné reservation or in a collection.  Possibly it isn’t Navajo after all, but even so, I can’t place it.  Do you have any idea what it is?  Aaron, 1042 A:  This is a very strange mask. (Might remind…

  • Europe

    Another interesting Buso

    Q:  I would like you to have a look at this mask. The seller has no clue about it, but I think it is an older, somewhat crude Busojaras mask from Hungary. The name on the rear seems to be Hungarian, and it comes with the year of carving. It may be unused mask but it looks like it was made for use (recess for the nose). The carved lines on the face are remarkable. What do you think of it?  Chris, 1041 A:  It is especially nice because of the excellent horns and the interesting carvings on the face. The signature should be researched and will possibly add more…

  • Protection

    Kendo protective mask

    Kendo is one of Japan’s martial arts sports based on the two-handed sword fighting of the samurai.  It has evolved into a system of mental and physical training using bamboo sticks. This mask has been worn in many mock fights on the island of Okinawa. Its user would also have been protected by a uniform of quilted cloth panels with a sturdy chest protector and loose pants. What is so interesting about these masks (and those used in other sports) is that they also have the ability to intimidate the opponent. In this way they are not unlike many of the other masks we deal with on this website.  1040

  • Europe

    Famous Comedia del Arte mask

    Q:  I’ve acquired another mask I thought you’d enjoy.  This Brighella, which I know almost nothing about except that it’s leather and at least 25-30 years old. It’s got an elastic strap on the back and was clearly made for use, and is very well done.  I wish I knew more about it, e.g., whether it was actually made in Italy or by an Italian-trained artisan.  Aaron, 1039 A:  This is the third European mask posted in a row, but I think we American collectors tend to prefer African, Oceanic and others cultures while often ignoring Europe. Also, I broke my rule of accepting only one mask per person because…

  • Europe

    Masterpiece from Europe

    Q: The Sepp Seidl Krampus mask, the fifth of his I own, is a very special one.  It has taken me four years to get him to sell me a mask with the traditional Steinbock horns instead of domestic goat horns, because the Steinbock ones are more expensive and very popular.  This mask has been used in several Perchtenlaufen over the years, and still has the plastic helmet inside it.  Aaron, 1038 A:  We are always pleased when Aaron shares one of his recent acquisitions with us. This mask is made by one of the best makers in the world. Look at the enlarged photo carefully to appreciate the workmanship.…