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 remember a similarly shaped leather mask with a snake on it from the island of Timor. But have I ever seen one exactly like this? No. Though you and I both deal in masks from all over the world, we loose on this time. But I think it is an authentic artifact worth so serious research. If only someone would help us.

One Comment

  • Bob Ibold

    Aaron wrote this… “Mexico could be right, but if so, it’s nothing like anything I’ve seen in my books. I hope someone has come across something like this before!”
    My answer… The world of ethnographic masks is complicated. If you are writing a book or organizing a collection, you have to draw the line somewhere when you are uncovering exceptions. My “Rare Samo helmet mask” posted April 29, 2017, is a good example. This mask looks like nothing you’ve seen before. That’s because the Samo are a very small tribe that hardly anyone is interested in.

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