• Africa

    Large Baga Nimba shoulder mask

    Q: I have a baga nimba mask (full size) and paperwork for it. It came from a prominent tribal collector in Boston. I am curious as to what you believe it would be valued around or if a market for this exists. Here are photos of the mask. Let me know your thoughts. Adam, 1634 A: The most important of the Baga art forms is the great mask, or Nimba. It represents the mother of fertility, protector of pregnant women, and presides over all agricultural ceremonies. The dancer, wearing a full raffia costume, carries the mask on his shoulders, looking out through holes between the breasts. In use, such masks…

  • India & Himalayas,  Unknown

    Bronze helmet mask from where?

    Q: Thank you for your e-mail and thank you for your interest in the mask or is it more of a helmet? It is about 10.5 inches in height. The ornament on top is 3 inches. The circumference at the nose is roughly 24 inches. This was a gift from a very generous collector. I have no further information. I will attempt to contact him today for more details. Shelly, 1633 A: I searched for Cambodian, Burmese, Indian, Nepalese, Tibetan and other masks with no luck. Thus goes the work of The Mask Man– a guy who claims he knows about masks from all over the world. There certainly are…

  • Africa

    Early Kuba mask with provenance

    Q: Hello from Belgium. Here is one of my favorites from my collection of masks of the world. It is 19th century and a part of the objects brought back from Congo during the 1st Belgian expedition organized by the CCI (Compagnie pour le Commerce et l’Industrie) to Katanga 1891-1893 and led by Alexandre Delcommune. This is the first Royal Kuba masks, Ngaady a Mwaash, known to be brought in Belgium in 1893 and probably the only known to date to have the nape covered with commercial fabric that was a royal exclusive Kuba privilege before the submission of the Kuba Kingdom in 1904. It comes from the estate of…

  • Europe

    Botarga mask from Spain

    Different parts of Spain have their own unique ways of designing masks and costumes for celebration. I believe the botarga, a distinctive character associated with the traditional winter festivities in the region of Guadalajara, is the fifth blog I done on Spanish masks. They are all different. The botarga is a character connected to today’s religious celebrations. Its origins are thought to date from pre-Roman times and to be related with fertility rites. The mask’s typical accessories are the brightly colored costume, a truncheon, castanets and the cowbells tied around the waist. It is made of brightly painted walnut wood. The face resembles a devil, with an open mouth, pointed…

  • South America

    3 more Tukuma masks from Amazon

    Q: Thank you for taking the time to take a look at these items. There are 3 figures. Each measure to approx 52 inches in total length. My grandfather acquired them in the Brazilian Amazon maybe 10 years ago. He got them directly from an indigenous tribe when he was on a excursion up through the Rio Negro with my brother. I don’t know the name of the tribe, however, after doing some research I was thinking maybe Tikuna? He told me that they were guardians against cannibals, but he could have made that up. He was quite the story teller. Let me know what you think. I’d love any…

  • Africa

    Baule portrait mask from Ivory Coast

    Q: Picked this up at an auction. There is some damage on the top, but I don’t know what caused it. Wondering how old this is and where it is from? Despite the damage, is it still collectible? Pat, 1628 A: You have found an attractive mask and asked some good questions. Damage like this doesn’t lower its value… but being a reproduction does. To the average collector this is good news because an old and used piece would cost so much more. It was probably made recently, but age is of little concern for a reproduction. What you have is collectible. The Baule are one of the Akan peoples.…

  • Africa

    Modern Dogon masks from Mali

    In the Dogon communities of Mali, West Africa, masked dancers perform, creating a brilliantly colored, ever-changing spectacle of sculpture, costume, song, and dance. During his research in the 1930s French anthropologist Marcel Griaule documented more than seventy different mask types, representing animals, birds, human characters, and abstract concepts, which he considered to be a visual summary of the world surrounding the Dogon people. Griaule saw the ceremonies as a stunning materialization of the close links between contemporary Dogon society and the many stages of life and death, prosperity and hardship, etc. We collectors sometimes forget that most of these Dogon masks tend to change as time goes by. The style…

  • Guatemala

    Early monkey mask from Guatemala

    Q: Monkeys masks are very common in Guatemala (and Mexico). They are called “Mono” or “Mico”. This later name concerns a small monkey and makes reference to the spider monkey, ubiquitous in these regions. There are used in various dances, and also in the ceremony of Palo Volador, still performed in Chichicastenango and Joyabaj in the Quiché highlands. The present mask is typical of the Palo Volador in Chichicastenango. Today there are painted with bright colors of black, red and white. The present one dates probably from the mid-XX. It has been painted black and brown. Jean, 1627 A: Jean continues to build a comprehensive collection of authentic Guatemalan masks.…

  • South America

    Tukuna mask from NE Amazon region

    Q: I have several masks that we collected while on an expedition in the Amazon during 1970’s. What tribe is this from and is it of any value? I do not collect masks, but I have several that I wish to sell or donate to museum. Sharon, 1626 A: Your mask is the most beautiful “crowned” Tukuna mask I have ever seen. The face is expertly carved, the round ears are cool, and the bark-cloth mantle is handsome. Also, it is still in excellent condition. The first time I saw one was about 40 years ago and I thought that an evangelical missionary probably gave them the idea for a…

  • Mexico

    Yaqui pascola mask, Sonora, Mexico

    This mask came from a collector who had several in an estate sale in which some (this being one) were left. There are several more various ones as well. 8 inches long (without beard) by 6 inches wide. Not sure about material, possibly wood? It’s very light. Thanks in advance! Just like to learn more about them as I am trying to sell for owner. Deb, 1625 A: The following can be found on page 115 of Mask of the World by Ibold & Yohn… Pascolas are for Easter celebrations. The Yaqui Indians celebrate all of Holy Week, however, most Roman Catholics would not recognize their rituals because they are…