• Africa

    Guere mask with bird

      Q:  Have you any idea which tribe this mask is from?  Derek, 1208 A:  I’m calling it a Guere. It might also come from the Kran, Wobe or We. These tribes occupy Ivory Coast and Eastern Liberia. You could search for images of them all and will probably not find a mask with a bird sticking out of its forehead. I think it is very collectible for this reason. Whether it is as old and used as it looks remains to be seen. C Save Save Save

  • Mexico

    Mexican homemade mask

    Q:  I bought this mask many years ago at a folk art store in Denver, CO, which was going out of business. They had very little info on it, except to say they thought it was called “Huasteca” and was from Mexico. I have tried to research it…to no avail. Made of very light wood and has blushing cheeks. Could you give me more details about this mask? I’d appreciate it.  Mickey, 1207 A:  Homemade masks can come from almost anywhere in Mexico, not just the Huasteca region of Hidalgo. Many Mexicans are so poor they can’t afford to buy from a local mask maker. Some of these amateurs are…

  • East Asia

    Nuo mask from Guangxi, China

    When we started writing Masks of the World about four years ago, we said on page 50 of the East Asia chapter the following (slightly revised). From the Maonan ethnic group living in the remote Guangxi Province, this is a well-used Nuo character mask. Nuo is an old name for exorcism ceremonies meant to drive off pestilence, disease and death. These  ceremonies eventually evolved into dances, and later into operas. The Maonans have always been farmers, but times have been changing rapidly in the People’s Republic. Urbanization seems to be ending much of the folk art traditions. Masks like this one, repainted several times and now exhibiting a nicely worn…

  • Caribbean

    3 Vejigantes from Puerto Rico

    I just found this photo of three papier mache masks which are worn by Puerto Rican marchers at carnival time. They are decorated differently and obviously made by the same guy. You can see more typical Vejigantes by going to the Caribbean Category on this site. I live in downtown Lancaster, PA, which has a large population of Puerto Ricans living within walking distance of me, but these three masks were photographed on the island… a great place for masquerade.  1205

  • India & Himalayas

    From an island off the tip of India

      Q:  Went to a church Thrift Shop last week and they were having a half off sale on the “artwork”. Bought three Indonesian Masks for $20.00! The two smaller ones have real animal tusks (seven each mask)held to the masks with old finishing type nails, the ears attached the same way. Guessing they are definitely tourist-type masks. The largest mask is 10″ wide by 14 1/2″ high and is a one piece carving. Five cobras make up the top of the headdress and the ears are human heads. On the back appear to be missing attachments for the wearer for a head strap, also one hole through the top.…

  • India & Himalayas

    Hairy leather mask

    Q:  Here is a mask that I think is from Nepal. Can you tell me more about it?  Hans, 1203 A:  Masks made of hairy animal skin do show up occasionally in Nepal, Tibet, and even parts of Europe. I want to put this one on the blog because it projects so much character and, dare I say it, Satanic Power! Hopefully one of our viewers will add a comment.

  • Europe

    Old Venetian carnival mask

    Q:  I am sending you pictures of a couple of painted light metal (possibly tole). I believe these could be 18th century Venetian masks.They remind me of the “Volto” type, just the mouth here is open. Do you have any information that could help?  Nicola, 1202 A:  Your research is correct. It is an old Volto character from the traditional Venetian masquerade. It is the most common style and can be seen at many parties around the Western world. Other Venetian mask characters would be the Bauta, Colombina, Plague Doctor, Pantalone, etc. I think both of your Voltos are very collectible. It sure would be nice to know when and…

  • South America

    Jaguar mask from the Chiriguanos

    Q:  I purchased this mask at a flea market in San Francisco a while back. The seller didn’t know anything about it but he only charged me $20. It seems to be made from a light weight wood and measures almost 11″ tall 9″ wide and almost 10″ deep. I would love to know where this is from. Dustin, 1201 A:  The Encyclopedia Britanica says… “Chiriguano, (pejorative), also called Guaraní, Guaraní-speaking South American Indians living in the Bolivian foothills of the eastern Andes and in Argentina. They are linguistically and culturally related to the Tupí-Guaraní horticulturists living throughout the tropical rain forests of the Amazon basin.” The book, Masks of…

  • Oceania

    Mortlock Island mask

    I don’t normally do this, but if you go to eBay and search “Mortlock Island mask” you can see and read all about this Micronesian rarity. Earlier today I posted a Polynesian mask that is also unusual. Unlike Melonesia, these two large areas of the world hardly practice masquerade at all. Both masks are rare… and you could actually own this one if you’re willing to spend several hundred dollars. Have you ever seen a Polynesian mask and a Micronesian mask in the same day? Save

  • Oceania

    Maori mask from New Zealand

    This is the best Maori mask I have seen on the Internet. The quality of the carving is fantastic! Its mouth is open, with the tongue sticking out and the eyes protruding. The expression is aggressive and looks like the grimaces that Maoris make during war dances. However, it is not made for wearing. It celebrates an ancestor and would have been found on a Maori meeting house wall. The lines on this mask mirror Maori tattoos, which they had on their faces to make them look fierce in warfare. Today some Maori people are reviving this artistic tradition as they try to preserve their culture and identity. The Maoris…