• India & Himalayas

    Himalayan skull masks

    I was just looking at this entertaining skull mask. Skulls are a subject for masquerade in cultures all over the world. This one is obviously from the Himalayan region. You can always recognize this because of the way the nose, cheek bones and many teeth are sculpted. It is made of papier mache which is light-weight and cheap. Most of the skull masks made for use in dance or ceremony nowadays utilize that material. However, this particular one was antiqued for sale to the tourist trade. I’m also posting two other skull masks from page 38 of my book, Masks of the World, that were carefully carved out of wood. …

  • Mexico

    Hard to identify Mexican mask

    Q:  Here is one of my latest Mexican mask acquisitions… appears to be turn-of-the-century. Do you agree? There is considerable aging… in fact I think I may have fell in love with the aging rings of the wood more than anything. Idea on character? I cant discern if its a hat he is wearing or poking fun at oversized eyebrows to be honest. I also find the two holes at the top of the mask interesting… I wonder what would have once been mounted there. Similarly, it looks like there are square pegs on top to bottom of the mask… again, not sure how that might have been used. Mask measures…

  • South America

    Recent Amazon Indian masks and costumes

    Q:  Here are some photos of masquerade of the Cocama people in Santo Tomas, Peru. The pics are in the National Geographic that arrived yesterday, so they are recent.  Hans, 1097 A:  I love seeing examples of masks that demonstrate how folk art continues to evolve. I don’t believe that the Cocama people would have made masks and costumes like these 50 years ago. You can read more about this in the January 2017 issue of Nat Geo.

  • South America

    Another Payaso from the mountains of Ecuador

    Q:  I wanted to see if you had any info on this mask.  Joe, 1096 A:  This is all that Joe told me, but his three photos were helpful and I recognized the mask immediately. It is a Payaso (clown) from the Indians of Ecuador. There is a different one shown on our blog archive (category “South America”) that was posted Nov 15, 2016.  Please look it up so you can compare the two, and learn more about how them. This one is crudely made and appears to have been used.  The one in the archives is new and more carefully carved and painted.  A- Save

  • Mexico

    Interesting Indian portrait

    Q:  I purchased this mask in Creel, Mexico in 1989. The unusual thing about this mask is that while the Tarahumarans have always carved masks, I was told it was not common for them to create masks that depicted themselves. The other masks in the shop were all of white men. It is dated and signed.  Robin, 1095 A:  (Later this was written to Robin.) I forwarded your photograph to a former ASM Curator, Tom Kolaz, who has studied and written about Tarahumara masks for decades. He says the mask was made by Irmo Armendariz who used to live near Roseachic, Chihuahua. He is not Tarahumara but the area had…

  • Africa,  Unknown

    A mystery from Africa

    Q:  Je suis en possession de ce masque mais je n’ai aucune idée de sa provenance et s’il a une quelconque valeur ou simplement décoratif.  Vous est-il possible de m’éclairer sur le sujet ?  Il mesure 24cm/9,5 inches.   Jean Luc, 1094 A:  My wife translated this. Jean Luc wants to know what the mask is. Of course… and so do I. Dear fellow collectors, please give me your thoughts. The photographs are good. It doesn’t look like airport art. If the patina is fake, it would have taken a lot of time and effort.  B+ Save Save

  • Africa

    Kpelie mask, Senufo people, Ivory Coast

    Q:  This mask is one of a pair. The other is of a similar size and design but the details are slightly different. Both are approx. 16″ high. I’m pretty sure I bought them 15-20 years ago at a thrift store in Miami for approx. $50 for the pair. I doubt they’re valuable, but I plan to mount them on stands and would like to identify their area of origin. Appreciate your opinion!  Tim, 1093 A:  I have posted a Kpelie mask about a year ago. It is #982 in the “Africa” category of the blog archives. Yours is an average reproduction of a classic West African traditional mask that…

  • Native America

    Unidentified Eskimo mask

    Here is a mask I would like to know more about. In my book, Masks of the World, it is on page 94. The description reads: Unusual mask– Alaska or Canada, 6.7 inches, carved red cedar We saw a crude Tsimshian mask that was cylindrical in shape like this one, and had a long nose attached to the face, but was otherwise different. It also has an Inupiat or Yup’ik feeling. There are no string holes and the nose is nailed in place. The paint is aluminum so it is probably 20th century. And don’t be afraid to tell me if you think it is something completely different. I am…

  • Unknown

    A wild and crazy mask

    Q:  I was hoping you could tell me about this mask. I was told that it was a Guatemalan dance mask. I find that hard to believe as I’ve never seen a Guatemalan mask that looks anything like this. My first impression was that it looked like a Northwest Indian mask. I would appreciate any info you might have on this…Thanks very much.   Ray, 1091 A:  It’s got a modern West African vibe, but it could come from other places. Because it appears to be carved very thin and has a grab bar on the rear, somewhere in the Southwest Pacific is a possibility. Please, you people out there,…

  • Africa

    Airport art at its best

    Q:  Please could you assist me.  I recently bought a number of Guro masks on an auction in South Africa.  They were part of a deceased estate.  The collection comprised Gu masks, Zamble masks and anthropomorphic masks. The variety and fine carving of these masks suggests that they represent a collection of authentic  objects.  Sharon, 1089 A:  There is a style of Guro carving that started in West Africa sometime in the 20th century that became very popular with collectors. I’ve done two other blogs on them– #765 and #977– and I know a guy who collects only these and a shop in Philadelphia that specialized in them. However, they…