• 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…

  • Africa

    Chokwe Mwano Pwo mask repro

    Q: I bought this mask in store in Sarasota. I love it. I would like to know what is the value. Maria, 1624 A: This particular Mwano Pwo Mask is traditional in style and would be affordable for most people. I saw another one that was nicer offered by a reputable dealer for $800. Here is what they had to say about their reproduction. Representing ideal young female beauty, Mwano Pwo were danced with male counterparts, Chihongo, during initiation ceremonies and other important occasions to bring fertility and prosperity to the village. Most share the depiction of facial scarification patterns, filed teeth, fanciful and inventive hair styles, tear motifs and…

  • India & Himalayas

    Primitive Nepalese mask

    Q: I have a nice old mask that I’m not sure of origin. I have an idea that it comes from Timor, but something also pointing in the direction of Himalaya. What do Mask of the world think? I hope you can and will help. Thanks in advance! Data: High 24cm. wide 15cm. depth 10 cm. Hardwood and hair. Looks like human hair, but not sure. Provenance: I bought a collection of old Greenlandic artifacts, which included this. Jan, 1623 A: The appearance of Timorese masks is sometimes confused with old Himalayan examples. With the hair and black, shiny color of the mask, I’ll go with rural Nepal or someplace…

  • East Asia,  India & Himalayas

    Traditional Buddhist mask from Mongolia

    Q: Slightly Mysterious… I recently purchased this mask at an online auction for approx $30. Not sure of origin since it was simply described as an “Asian Mask”. I don’t believe it was ever worn, but it’s very well made and certainly could have been . It measures 11″ X 9″ and carved from a lightweight wood. I’m guessing it’s from Bhutan or Nepal, based on the way the ears are carved and the exaggerated expression, but I could be wrong. Dan, 1622 A: I think of traditional Buddhist masks as being Himalayan, but they are also found as far north as Mongolia for use in the famous Tsam ceremony…

  • Mexico

    Mexican diablo mask

    Q: I hardly know anything about masks, but I acquired this one recently. I feel it has a great energy. It is carved Wood with Animal Antlers (I think it use to have teeth, but they are no longer there). I believe it might be a Mexican diablo mask, but really don’t know. Any information you can give me would be greatly appreciated! Approximate Measurements: OAH – 16″ (With antlers), 9″ Width, OAD – 7″ Jen, 1621 A: This is a primitive version of the devil. I agree with you about the “energy” and would be pleased to add it to my wall of Mexican masks. It could have been…

  • Africa

    Baule mask, authentic or repro

    Q: I bought several from an owner of a resale shop. They aren’t dealers and know very little about antiques. They came across a established photographer and painter and they ended up buying all he had. A storage unit I think. He worked in Chicago. They told me he said they were from Columbia. One says Ivory Coast on a piece of paper on the back. I paid 15.00 each and I would like to present them for sale. Janet, 1620 A: This looks to me like a Baule mask from Ivory Coast, West Africa. The problem is that you want to sell all of them and need to know…

  • Misc

    MASK by Chris Ranier

    I saw some of the beautiful pictures in this new book. Here is one of a Buddhist deer masks from the Mustang Region of Nepal. Sorry, my scan doesn’t do it justice. Check out more of them on the internet and see what you think. Here is what Amazon had to say about the book… MASK presents a striking collection of rare masks steeped in ancient tradition, captured through the lens of one of the world’s most celebrated documentary photographers. Chris Rainier has documented indigenous and endangered cultures worldwide. What began as a focus on the masks of New Guinea—where modernity threatened to erase ancient rituals and cultures—became an expansive…