• South America,  Unknown

    Strange mask of natural materials

    Q: I found it in a box at a garage sale in Naples, FL.. The lady said it was in her grandfathers garage with a bunch of other “junk”. I payed 5 dollars for it. The feathers feel real the face portion seem to be some type of pod that may have been closed at one point and then opened. The teeth seem real although they look more like animal teeth on the back it looks like a clay way molded so as when the feathers came through the front they would stick in the clay and stay in place when it dried.

  • South America,  Unknown

    Great folk art carving

    Q: The heavy hardwood mask with a star on the forehead is, I was told, an older carnival mask from Trinidad & Tobago. It supposedly represents a policeman (hence the star). I’m not sure all this is accurate, but it does make some sense. I’ve never seen a mask quite like this one before. What do you think? Aaron, 838 A: You have a good eye for quality. I think this is an authentic mask, but like you, I’m not aware of carnival masks from Trinidad & Tobago looking anything like this.

  • Mexico

    The famous Tigre battle helmet

    Q: We happened upon this mask in a yard sale. The tag on the strap says Tigre Guerrero. We know it is a ceremonial mask. What can you tell us about this mask? Where can we find out more? A: This is a famous style of Mexican mask that is only found in Zitlala, Guerrero. There, during the feast day of the Holy Cross all hell brakes loose when the young men from different neighborhoods put on jaguar suits (jaguars are called Tigres in Mexico), top them off with heavy-duty leather helmet masks like what you see here, arm themselves with a big stick and start beating each other up.

  • 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…