• India & Himalayas

    Photo of Ganesha in use

    I really enjoy this picture. Is it a person or a statue on a raft? Devotees carry an idol of the Hindu elephant god Ganesha, the deity of prosperity, for immersion into the Arabian Sea on the last day of the Ganesh Chaturthi festival in Mumbai, India. Ganesh Chaturthi is a 10-day Hindu festival taking place in India and observed around the world. The occasion, also known as Vinayaka Chaturthi or Vinayaka Chavithi, honors the arrival on earth of Lord Ganesha, the elephant-headed god said to bring wisdom and remove obstacles from the paths of the lives of true believers. It commences with the fourth day of the waxing moon…

  • Africa

    Masks from Sierra Leone

    Sierra Leone is one of the smallest countries in Africa and yet it has a large impact on curators and collectors of masks. The Mende and Temne people who live their are strong in art and culture, especially with masquerade. They are the two largest ethnic groups. Two of the photos you see here are Jolies used for parades, especially in the capitol of Freetown by the popular Ode-Lay Society. They can be very elaborate, but others are much simpler and less expensive. The black helmet-style mask is worn by girls passing into adulthood at a Sande Society ceremony. The mask is called a Bundu. To the best of my…

  • Misc

    Focus your collecting on something special

    Q: Your website is a great resource for anyone interested in masking. It actually is the main reason why I began being interested in carving traditional Central Swiss masks. It is also the reason why I began collecting specifically Swiss masks. It taught me a lot of things, most of all also that it is not necessarily useful to collect masks from all over the world. Specializing will yield a much more in-depth and high-quality collection and will make you an expert over time in that area, which is much more fun in the end than having the house filled with any masks you stumble over. Chris, 1724 A: Thanks…

  • India & Himalayas

    Old man mask from NE India

    This is an old man character used in a Buddhist cham ceremony. It comes from the Monpa area in Arunachal Pradesh, in northeast India. Obviously old and used many times by the monks, it is rare in style and something a museum would want to own. 11 inches high. Wikipedia has this to say. The cham dance is a lively masked and costumed dance associated with some sects of Tibetan Buddhism and Buddhist festivals. The dance is accompanied by music played by monks using traditional Tibetan musical instruments. The dances often offer moral instruction relating to compassion for sentient beings and are held to bring merit to all who perceive…

  • Oceania

    Abelam yam mask from PNG

    Q: Looking to ID this mask. The story is that it was brought back from somewhere in the Pacific Theater during or a little after WWII. It has a movable mouth (or lower jaw) and a tongue made up of some kind of rolled up material. Overall kind of beat up and moth eaten. Probably had some fur on it at some time and has a tail at the top. Kind of a rat shape to it. Overall length, not including the tail, is about 31″. Daryl, 1722 A: We are thinking this mask is from Papua New Guinea’s East Sepik Region. This is where the Abelam people live. A…

  • Oceania

    Ancestor mask from Papua New Guinea

    Q: I inherited this mask and want to know more. Not sure where it was purchased, seems to be made of wood and quite large with strange swirls carved into the eyes. Mattie, 1721 A: Great ancestor mask from a Sepik River village in eastern PNG. Often these masks are made to be hung on the walls of the men’s meeting house. Notice that has no eye holes. Technically it is more like a religious sculpture. This carving has the distinctive features of the region, although the tongue is unusual. You might want to check out another one which also has a tongue hanging out: https://masksoftheworld.com/mask-from-sepik-river-png/ Unfortunately, I’m not certain…

  • Africa

    Unpainted Gu mask from Ivory Coast

    We recently posted a fully painted one which you can see by going to– https://masksoftheworld.com/gu-mask-from-west-africa/ Actually, this “unpainted” one has a little white paint. It is well made and beautiful. I don’t know if this dark brown one is authentic or a reproduction. If the latter, most of us could afford it. The photo was taken by Roman Bonnefoy. Here is some information on African masks for beginners… Ritual and ceremonial masks are an essential feature of the traditional culture and art of the peoples of Sub-Saharan and West African. While the specific implications associated to ritual masks widely vary in different cultures, some traits are common to most African…

  • Protection

    Protective mask I would like

    Q: I was a bit bored by all the clinical face masks and have thus let me inspire by all this to produce my own face mask – out of wood, of course 🙂 it is maple wood, hard and elastic, but light-weight. As you can see, the patch of clinical mask attached on the inside is replaceable. Painted with acrylic paint. I guess this goes into the category of Protection. Chris, 1719 A: Clinical face masks are something I wear only because of the pandemic, and I don’t like them. This one would be fun!. Bob

  • Misc

    Mexican hummingbird mask

    The first carved wood mask is 8″ high x 5.2″ wide x 12.8″ deep, and made in Carpinteros, Hidalgo, Eastern Mexico. The second one is photographed from three angles and is also made by the same Otomi people in that area. The first mask is new and the second one has been used. These go along with beautiful costumes and are very popular. I’m sorry but all the the scans are low resolution. Bob, 1718/>

  • Guatemala

    Expert repairs on a mask

    Q: Further to the discussion about restoration some months ago, here is an example of a restoration I have had recently made on a mask. Just the scar of the break on the front side has been treated, all the other chips related to age and use have been left untouched. The break itself, glued many years ago, is still clearly visible on the backside. I wonder if they switched the eyes when they repaired the break because, strangely, the left eye shows a fissure not in relation with any fissure in the wood, although corresponding exactly to the break if transposed to the right side….but on the other hand…