Q: Recently I found this mask that really intrigued me in Dubai at a small shop where Africans were selling authentic African masks. It is a wooden mask, about 39 cm in length (about 26 excluding the bird on top) and about 15.5 cm wide. I paid about $150 for the mask. They told me it originates from Gabon and was used to ward off evil spirits. I really hope you can tell me more about this mask, it’s origin (maybe tribe) and use. Especially the bird really interests me. Jacqueline, 939
A: Masks for tourist and export are being made in Gabon and many other places. This piece follows the traditional style of several tribes far away in the Ivory Coast area. No matter, it is a beautiful piece that benefits from that dark, well aged look. Like you, I am especially pleased with the asymmetrical and highly abstract bird on top. However, it displeases me that most African masks are artificially aged and sold as authentic artifacts… often for way more money than you paid.