• Africa

    West African mask with coins on her head

    Q: I was given this mask as a birthday gift when I was a young teen. I have no info on it other than 9 coins embedded in rows of 3 on top of the head. The coins seem to be dated in the 1920’s and depict some sort of palm tree? Any help identifying and possible value would be appreciated, as I am 40 yrs old and have always wondered. Benny, 836 We know this mask was made in middle to late 20th century. I also see some resemblance to the work of the Ibo people in Nigeria and the Puno of Gabon. That’s a big chunk of West…

  • Guatemala

    Another great Mystery Mask

    Q: At first glance, I found the front so over dramatized that I assumed it was a tourist piece. Then the cracking/aging paint got my attention that this thing has considerable age. And then finally, I was in shock to see both the amount of patina and craftsmanship of the reverse side.This thing clearly has been danced heavily. The craftsmanship on the back had me initially thinking Japan. However, the tear-drop eyes make me think Korean. This is not a style of an Oni or devil I’ve ever equated to Japan. Ever seen Korean Devils? Can you pin-point this? Nate, 837 A: I don’t where this is from. China, Korea,…

  • Native America

    Koskimo wearing a Hami mask

    A reader sent in this great picture of a Koskimo character wearing a full-body fur garment, oversize gloves and mask of Hami (‘dangerous thing’) during the Numhlim ceremony.This guy is a Kwakiutl Indian from somewhere in British Columbia. The photo was taken by Edward Curtis in 1914. Ceremonies and meetings of Northwest Coast Indians could be quite dramatic.

  • East Asia

    Asian mask for decor or memories

    Q: This mask was purchased from the estate of the daughter of a mask collector. It has his sticker. I was mot able to get his collection ledger. An African art dealer said it was not African. It is of ebony or a Dalbergia (Central American). I have never found anything that resembles it in my search. It has worn white chin whiskers. It was probably collected in the 1950’s. Kenneth, 833 A: Handsome tourist mask have been made in China and the Himalayas since the 19th century.

  • Mexico

    Old Huave mask from Oaxaca

    Q: Just acquired this mask from a third party who travel to Oaxaca frequently. In one of the many trips, they purchased this mask. Seeking any information, confirmation (region) or opinions. The mask measures 7.5″ h 5.5″ w 4.5 d and is made of hard wood. There are some minor signs of termite damage. Louis, 832 A: The Huave people occupy a few small villages in Western Oaxaca close to the Pacific Coast of Mexico. They make a lot of unpainted wooden masks, often decorated with armadillo shell and bristles of animal hair.

  • India & Himalayas

    Mask from somewhere in India

    Q: This mask looks familiar, but I can’t quite place it. It definitely seems Himalayan. Is it maybe a Monpa mask from Tibet? I’d love to get your opinion. Aaron, 831 A: I don’t think it is Himalayan. Perhaps a little further south in India, maybe all the way to Sri Lanka. I would be glad to put it on the Mystery Mask blog, especially if you would send a little more info. Then Aaron writes: I don’t think it’s Sri Lankan.

  • Native America

    A pair of mystery masks

    Q: We ended up with two masks we could not identify. Could you help us out please. Thanks so much, Norb (Visitors should know that Norb is constantly visiting estate auctions where he always wins the best items for a reasonable price. You can visit his store at www.estateauctionsinc.com 830 A: I can’t remember ever seeing masks like these two. Obviously, they are from the same culture and time period. I suspect they were used in culture, perhaps a long time ago. If I had to make a guess, I’d say they’re both from Alaska. If that turns out to be true, they would be of great interest to serious…

  • Europe

    Traditional folk art from the Alps

    Q: The mask in the photos was purchased at an auction. The husband and wife were both university professors – she taught art and he taught history. They had many South American and American Southwest items. They also had a lot of older Chinese and Japan pieces. We purchased a Thai mask, but this one was intriguing. There was no provenance as there was no family left to validate where this mask was from. The mask measures (measuring from the back side) 9.5″ tall and 7.25″ wide. This does not include the trailing mustache.

  • Africa

    It reminds us of the Congo

    Q: Hi Bob, I found this small mask at an estate sale this weekend. It is made of carved wood and measures 8″ in length, 4.5″ in width and 3″ in depth. The owner described it as a “Wisdom mask from the Congo”. Any further information would be much appreciated. Thanks, Simon, 828 A: Yes, this mask looks like it came from the Congo region. Perhaps it is a “wisdom mask.” But I don’t think we can attribute it to any particular culture or think of it as a true example of

  • Mexico

    More info on masks

    Here is a mask of St. Thomas that is from Xochiatipan, Hidalgo, Mexico. On 8/28 you saw a skull mask from Guerrero, Mexico, a Devil from nearby Michoacan, a Guerrero Jaguar, and a whore from Veracruz. If you want to know more about Mexican masks just go to the column on the right and click on “Mexico.” You’ll see 41 recently posted blogs about masks from that same fascinating country.