Q: I found this mask in the back of a small shop in southern Kenya. It is about 13 inches tall, 10 inches wide, and 5 inches deep. The mask seems to be made of a dark wood, perhaps ebony, and has what appears to be small amounts of clay inside. The carving technique leaves flattish hexagonal shapes all over the mask. I don’t know much about it, but I’ve heard that you really know your stuff.
A: Nice looking mask. Rather than Kenya, it was made somewhere in West Africa. It is a mix of styles which means I can’t pin it down to a particular culture. Some collectors call them hybrids. Nowadays we see lots of these on the mystery mask blog. If you need more extensive information on any African mask you should try the Yahoo Group called African_Arts.
I’m glad you think I know my stuff. Actually, I don’t know much about particular cultures. I generalize in masks from all over the world, with emphasis on those that are used in ritual or celebration. Masks made as souvenirs for tourists interest me less. C