Q: I got this at an antique shop a few days back. At first I thought he was just an old souvenir tchotchke because there aren’t any holes in the side to keep this mask on someone’s head, instead there are four punctures in the back that look like they are for mounting. There is a dark, smooth looking stain in the wood just above the nostrils in back. The stain appears right where a person’s breath would hit if they actually wore this mask. Maybe someone wore it for something? Conceivably those four parallel punctures could have been for a head strap…
Also, the mask was repaired at one time. There’s a strengthening bit of wood attached with two small nails in back of the right cheek. It looks like it’s stabilizing a crack. There is also a small corresponding crack in the paint above the repair which makes me think the repair happened after the mask was painted (if they repaired it the same time they carved it, the paint would hide a crack this small) Also, a repair suggests USE to me for some reason, rather than decoration. The crack on the front is too small to really affect the mask’s aesthetics. But a weakness in the mask could affect it’s usefulness as a mask and make it more likely to break when being used.
Also the black lines on this mask were touched up at one point. I can see the outline of a second slightly smaller eyebrow underneath the black paint. Whoever did that touchup did it poorly and left a finger print. But there are certainly two kinds of black paint on this mask in varying gloss. Katherine, 1586
A: I have seen a few masks that look a little like this from Bali and Java, but not enough similarity to give me confidence. It would be nice if some viewers would make a helpful comment.