• Africa

    Inexpensive West African mask

    Q:  I found this mask at an antique shop a few years ago. Think I paid around $15. It is 10” long and 7” wide. I would like to find out more about it and hope you can help me. Thanks in advance!  Renske, 1259 A:  That’s a wonderful mask for $15. People will pay hundreds for a careful reproduction and thousands for an authentic mask. Why not this one? Though it looks West Africa, it is a mixture of many different tribes. All I can tell for sure is that is was artificially aged. I am not an expert on African masks. If you see a mask you like…

  • India & Himalayas

    Black old man from Mongolia

    Q:  I recently bought a lot of various masks.  About 30 of them, most are probably made for tourists. Bought them from a lady who was moving out of the country (I’m from Argentina), so most of these are quite hard to find here. This one caught my eye. It’s clearly old, and it seems to fit the style of the Indonesian masks. The paint is naturally chipping, a big part of the horse hair it had is missing, and its made out of papier mache with some burlap backing it up. I’m in love with this piece simply because of its piercing, intimidating gaze, and for how old it…

  • East Asia

    Old Man mask of Japanese Noh theater

    Q:  I have an old wooden Japanese mask and would like it identified and dated. Can you help? I have not found another in my research on Google.   Ian, 1257 A:  Many of the Noh plays feature one or more old men in the cast. Identifying your particular old man will be difficult. I think it is from the the first half of the 20th century. The quality of the carving suggests it sold for a lower price. Perhaps you can find someone fluent in Japanese to translate that old label. What the label says might raise or lower the value a little.  A-

  • Misc

    Old, wood Green Man mask

    Q:  I purchased this mask in an antique store in the UK for £85, it was labelled as an ‘ancient green man mask’– but I’m not sure if this is right. It is 34cm tall, 24cm at its widest and about 13cm deep. It seems like it is pretty old. I’m not sure if the red inserts in the eyes are original. It looks like the holes may have been filled in at some point.  Any help identifying this mask would be great!   Chris, 1256 A:  Every thing you say is true. It could even be truly old with an interesting back story. And it sure would make a nice…

  • Misc

    Egyptian burial mask

      The Artemis Gallery auctions are having a sale which will follow a chronological timeline that begins with Ancient Egypt and progresses through Greek, Roman and other Old World cultures. Here is a Romano-Egyptian plaster mummy mask of a young man, circa 30 BCE to 2nd century CE. Its hauntingly lifelike facial features, curly beard and straight hair are skillfully painted, with a palette of harmonious tones adding a natural look to the skin. Pretty nice looking for something that’s over 2000 years old. http://www.artemisgallery.com/

  • Africa

    Another clay piece, but not a mask

    The Mangbetu people are known for their highly developed art. They were located in the Belgian Congo (today the northeast region of the DRC) and stood out to European explorers because of their elongated heads and beautiful scarification. Traditionally their babies’ heads were wrapped tightly with cloth in order to give them this elongated head appearance. This practice, called Lipombo, began dying out in the 1950s with the arrival of more Europeans and westernization. Scarification is the practice of incising the skin with a sharp instrument. It is no longer practiced today either. Here is an old clay sculpture from the Metropolitan Museum of a Mangbetu woman. Even though it…

  • Mexico

    Mexican clay mask? Decorative or not?

    Q:  Yet another mystery out of the same batch.  This one is large enough for a normal human face.  I’ve seen clay masks used in ceremonies before, but it’s rare.  Normally, when I see a clay mask, I assume it’s a decorative tourist mask.  In this case, I am hesitating, because it seems like it’s not really attractive enough to be a tourist mask.  Do you have any idea what it is?  Aaron, 1253 A:  I agree this will not appeal to most tourists. And don’t rule out Peru or other countries, they make a lot of terracotta masks, as well as Mexico. I have not seen one that looks…

  • Native America

    Photos of old Navajo masks

    Spiritual healing: Fascinating colorized images show Navajo men wearing eerie masks of the gods used during a medical ritual in the early 20th century Edward S Curtis was paid $75,000 in the early 1900s by J P Morgan to document the North American Indians. He spent the next 20 years observing their culture, taking more than 40,000 images of 80 different tribes. This series examines the Navajo Night Chant, a healing ceremony involving masked men dressed as deities. The ritual lasts for nine days during which the patient is regularly sweated and attended by the masked figures. Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5171113/100-year-old-images-Navajo-gods-used-healing-ritual.html#ixzz51HPZJE00 Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

  • Mexico

    Fancy Mexican mask

    This mask is gorgeous. It was made for someone important (and well-to-do) to wear at a big ceremony. In my notes I wrote it was made by the famous mask maker, Victoriano Salgado, who is from Uruapan, Michoacan. One of my collector friends sent the photo to me several years ago. The wooden part of the mask would be adult human in size.

  • Unknown

    Another exciting mystery mask

    Q:  This one is stumping me in a big way.  The nose and nose decoration looks like they are made of bone.  The hide is slightly hairy on the inside.  Judging by the condition of the leather, which is rock hard, it is probably at least 30 or 40 years old, but I have no clue where it is from.  Given that the other masks in the collection are mostly from Mexico and Nepal, my instinct is to say Nepal, but I’ve never seen a Nepalese mask even remotely similar.  Any ideas?  Aaron, 1250 A:  My instincts say Mexico, somewhere in the Northwest between Sonora and Jalisco. Also, I vaguely…