• Africa

    African Influences in Modern Art

    During the early 1900s, the aesthetics of traditional African sculpture became a powerful influence among European artists who formed an avant-garde in the development of modern art. In France, Henri Matisse , Pablo Picasso , and their School of Paris friends blended the highly stylized treatment of the human figure in African sculptures with painting styles derived from the post-Impressionist works of Cézanne and Gauguin . The resulting pictorial flatness, vivid color palette, and fragmented Cubist shapes helped to define early modernism. While these artists knew nothing of the original meaning and function of the West and Central African sculptures they encountered, they instantly recognized the spiritual aspect of the…

  • Guatemala

    Rare Guatemalan mask

    Q: It is true that the style could be confused with some primitive masks from other parts of the world. Nevertheless, it is Guatemalan, but so different from the usual designs. No big moustache or sideburns… It is a Xacalcoje, from of the dance of the Xacalcojes in Aldea Chuisuc, a small village in the province of Totonicapán (Quiché highlands). It is cedar hardwood with a beautiful patina on the back. Probably early or mid XX century. To be noted, the “muted smile” as also found on the second one presented on the page devoted to them on the site of the late Bryan Stevens: https://mexicandancemasks.com/?p=3898. Not all Xacalcojes have…

  • Mexico

    Mystery mask from Oaxaca

    Q: I bought this mask in Oaxaca in 1976. I have been collecting masks since 1974 and have not seen anything quite like this. Is it a viejito? I’m at a loss. Raul, 1752 A: The state of Oaxaca, on the lower Mexican Pacific coast, makes a lot of different-looking masks. Often they are creative, but still manage to be appropriate for a traditional dance. Note the photo of a collector’s wall full of Oaxacan masks. Many of them I haven’t seen before. This crazy, big-nosed guy is a challenge for me. I have no idea what role he might play in a dance. Mexican masks are my favorites, and…

  • East Asia

    Thai Hanneman mask

    Q: I recently inherited a Thailand papier-mâché Hanneman gold painted mask. I’ve seen a few on here. It’s vintage and I was just wondering the worth. Michelle, 1751 A: These “Mystery Mask” blogs help to determine the worth of your mask with an ABCD-grade. This is a not real appraisal, which always requires a fee for dollar-value research and marketing suggestions. Your Hanneman is well made with especially strong papier-mache and good painting for long usage in traditional dances… or the collections of people who can afford them. B+ No charge! IT’S FREE!

  • Guatemala,  Mexico

    PreColumbian death mask of Pakal the Great

    Q: The test results are ready now. Well, lets both be happy;) Would you like to evaluate now for me, considering it was real? The certificate is added. Robin, 1750 A: News this good only rarely happens at MasksoftheWorld.com. I am so pleased. Viewers can see Robin’s original Q & A dated March 21 of this year by typing in “death mask.” You could also visit sometime Palenque and Mexico City where you will find the burial pyramid and a recreation of the king’s burial chamber at the Museum of Anthropology. Pakal was buried in a colossal sarcophagus in the largest of Palenque’s stepped pyramid structures, the building called Bʼolon…

  • Africa

    3 African Helmet Masks

    These are common throughout Africa. The first mask is from the Suka people of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Covering the dancer’s entire head and resting on his shoulders, it is very rare that African helmet masks would be used for protection in fighting. The second is a Sowei for the women’s Sande Society in Sierra Lione. We posted one called “Sande Society mask for women only” July 16, 2019. You can access it easily. Last is a Lipiko, a mask that is still greatly used in both Mozambique and Tanzania. You can find several on this site. These last two helmet masks are very popular with collectors. There are…

  • Africa

    3 African crest masks

    Crest masks sit over the top of the head. Visualize a helmet mask that is way too small. They can be found with the costumes of several tribes in a number of different regions. Two live in southeastern Nigeria and western Cameroon and produce a distinctive types of crests or helmet masks carved from wood and oftencovered with animal skin, possibly from an antelope. With or without the leather, these two masks get a lot of attention. Both portray the human head with a high degree of naturalism. They have expressive facial features, intricate linear tattoo patterns, complex spiral horn coiffures, and feather and fiber ornaments. They would have been…

  • Africa

    3 African multiple-faced masks

    The many tribes living on the continent of Africa use an amazing number of different masks. MasksoftheWorld.com and our book both have way more African masks than any other kind. However there is one subcategory that doesn’t show up in catalogs and collections very often. That would be the ones that have two, three or four faces on the same mask. Obviously they are harder and more costly to make, and can be difficult to display. Using Google you can find them easily. Collectors should try to own at least one each that are well made and affordable (reproductions). The first shown on this blog is a reproduction of a…

  • East Asia

    3 Japanese masks new to me

    A friend sent me an article titled “10 Things You Might Not Know About Traditional Japanese Masks” by Lucy Dayman. She is an Australian-born, Japan-based journalist, copywriter and editor. It is an excellent article, but I new only seven of the masks. So here are the remaining three. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did. The cherub-faced Okame is the wife of Hyottoko, a cheerful lady who’s a symbol of good luck. Technically Okame goes under two names; Otafuku and Okame. Otafuku means good fortune while Okame means tortoise a Japanese symbol of a long life, so no matter which name you’re using she’s a positive sign…