• Oceania

    Rare Oceanic Mask

    A choice example of Oceanic art has been added to the collection at the Toledo Museum of Art. Purchased at Christie’s, the mask is one of four known distinguished examples from Saibai Island in the Torres Straits north of Australia.  Masks in this style are called “mawa,” meaning “face,” and are believed to represent mythical heroes whose appearances signal important events and rites of passage. There are only three other examples in this style, two in the Australian Museum in Sydney and one in Barbier Mueller Museum in Geneva, Switzerland. I posted this as a reminder of the wonderful masks you can see in museums. You can also purchase Oceanic…

  • Mexico,  Unknown

    Another Mexican Devil mask

    Q:  The mask with the horns is approximately 12×10 inches. The other that has folding flaps is approximately 15×15 inches. Any information about these would be appreciated.  Ryan, 1116 A:  I decided to post your you mask because we had a Guatemalan Devil yesterday and one from another part of Mexico the day before that. Look at how different these 3 Diablos are. Yours is from the state of Guanajuato and is made to be used in the Pastorela dance which has 7 different Diablos representing the seven deadly sins. Please resubmit the other mask in a few weeks because we can only publish one mystery mask at a time…

  • Bali & Java

    Cheap Balinese tourist mask from 1960’s

    Q:  This is one of three masks my parents bought on a trip to Indonesia in the 1960s.  I’m pretty sure they bought them on Bali.  They were there with the Washington State Wheat Commission.  I don’t know how much they paid but I’m sure not much. I have looked at images online and have not seen much that looks like my masks so I was hoping you might know something about them.  I have read some of your other posts so I understand they might not have value.  I just like them and would like to have some background if you have any to offer.  Noreen, 1115 A:  I…

  • Guatemala

    Devil mask from Guatemala

     Q:  I know that this mask is at least 55 years old. My mother bought it sometime around 55 or 60 years ago.  I do not know if it was new or used when she purchased it. Was wondering approximate value and where from, although it is not for sale.  Pat, 1114 A:  Devil masks have been gaining popularity in Guatemalan dances ever since Catholic priests started introducing them hundreds of years ago. Hanging out with with the dreaded coral snake would be a Mayan addition. This mask has glass eyes, snakes and wood horns that can be removed. It was made for sale to tourists. If it was for…

  • Africa

    African iron mask

    Q:  I found this picture online. I saw a similar piece in an auction. The expert talked about a Senufo death mask. Could you let me know your opinion about the origin of this kind of mask?  Nicolas, 1113 A:  I’ve never heard of a Senufo death mask, however there are masks similar to this made by the Bamana and Dogon people of Mali. Their blacksmiths would do the smelting to get the iron from the ore, then heat and hammer out both the tools, weapons and the important ritual objects used in the culture. I know nothing about the usage of iron masks. Perhaps most of them are for…

  • Mexico

    Unique Mexican Devil Mask

    Q:  I have some wood masks that my father had purchased over the years, I believe predominantly in Mexico. I wondered if they have any value, and if you would be interested in purchasing if they do?  Robin, 1112 A:  Just looked at your Mexican masks again and realized that this one is pretty nice. It’s a Diablo that in many ways is traditional in style and symbolism, but I can’t identify where in the country it is from. If we new, it would have some value. Though it is not clear in your small photos, the mask may have been used in performance. The Devil is an important character…

  • Africa

    From the Bamum of Cameroon

    Q:  I bought this mask on eBay last year for $65. The seller did not know much about it, but some research on my end leads me to believe that it is from  Cameroon.  Does it look at all authentic to you?  The reason that I ask is that there are no holes on the sides for wearing it.  Thanks very much.  Fred, 1111 A:  The famous author Ladislas Segy says this kind of mask was worn by the Bamum and Bamileke people at the beginning of the hunt and at the new-moon ceremonies. This particular carving is for export or sale to the tourist trade. Authentic African masks are…

  • India & Himalayas

    Sri Lankan mystery demon

    Q:  Right now the mask is hung up on a wall and very heavy. I have attached some photos. The back story is that it belonged to my wife’s grandmother who dabbled in antiques and traveled a lot. We have this mask and a Maui kava kava sculpture. The family remembers these items as kids, so it is at least 30-40 years old. I could not find any marks inside, or find any other mask via the Web that looks close to this. I think it’s origin may be Tibetan. Since she passed I started collecting other masks, but nothing of this caliber.  Jeremiah, 1110 A:  This Sinhalese (the largest…

  • Oceania

    The famous PNG mud man mask

    Q:  Here is a mask I picked up in my travels in Florida. Went to Goodwill and found this Asaro mud man mask  dated 1997.  This was on a paper label inside the mask.  Really great condition. Teeth are real.  Other bone  and seed decorations really cool. Scary looking.  Deb, 1109 A:  A lot of the people who write to me found their mystery mask in a thrift shop… and it is usually junk I can’t publish.  This one was probably made for tourist, but it certainly is not junk. The style is perfect, it’s been carefully made and decorated, and it would be nice for any collection of Oceanic…

  • Mexico

    Mexican dog mask

    Q:  We bought this mask in New Orleans in an antique shop about three years ago. It cost $90 and was from a man who collected masks. We would love to know where it comes from and have never seen another one like it. It was labelled as a wolf mask. Thank you so much for your assistance.  Jenny, 1108 A:  It could be a wolf or a dog. Both play roles in several Mexican dances. It would be nice to know what state it came from, the village and the dance. Brand new and without holes and straps, it was probably made for the tourist trade. I like it! …