Q: My wife and I picked up this mask while in Ciudad Bolivar. While flying in to see Angel Falls we bought lots of things (not the drug kit). Recently the mask flaked and I am trying to figure out what to do. We where told that the black paint is actually bee’s wax. We really are not going to sell the mask. Any ideas? Randy, 1594
A: Your photo represents some kind of wild animal indigenous to southern Colombia or Venezuela (maybe an owl monkey or skunk). The particular Amazon Indian tribe who dance this style of mask for religious purposes are called the Piaroa-Huarime. It is made of a fiber frame covered with bark cloth and then white clay and black-stained bee’s wax. Masks like this are made for tribal ceremonies and for sale to tourists.
If some more of the bee’s wax seems to be coming off I would suggest you find someone clever enough to fix it. Otherwise, I would hang this stunning artifact on one of your walls and enjoy it as is. I would also suggest that you purchase Arts of the Amazon by Barbara Braun. If you want to collect more masks, also purchase Mask of the World by Ibold and Yohn. B+