India & Himalayas

Black old man from Mongolia

Q:  I recently bought a lot of various masks.  About 30 of them, most are probably made for tourists. Bought them from a lady who was moving out of the country (I’m from Argentina), so most of these are quite hard to find here. This one caught my eye. It’s clearly old, and it seems to fit the style of the Indonesian masks. The paint is naturally chipping, a big part of the horse hair it had is missing, and its made out of papier mache with some burlap backing it up. I’m in love with this piece simply because of its piercing, intimidating gaze, and for how old it looks.
I’m mostly curious of how old it could be, what country is it from and what creature it represents. I’m looking to restore it but just the missing hair.  Tomas, 1258


A:  I think this mask would be hard to find in Europe or North America. It’s from somewhere in Asia, old, but not necessarily meant for use. There are no eye or strap holes. None the less, you should be in love with this mask. Add the missing hair only if you are good at restoration, otherwise, hire a professional. This black old man is probably worth some money.

Dear readers: many thanks for helping out so well with your comments!


  • Bob Ibold

    Mike and Aaron are correct. I then found this one on google that looked like the following…
    Spirit of Songgina
    Da Khuree style
    19th century
    Papier-mache, polychrome, and horsehair
    H: 12 1/4 in. (31 cm) W: 13 in. (33 cm) D: 12 5/8 in. (32 cm)
    Choijin-Lama Temple Museum, Ulaanbaatar

  • Tom

    First, I thank you all for helping me figure out this creature. Now I know all I needed about it and I love it even more. For what I can see in pics it originally had hair on its head too, and more beard. Soon I’ll be restoring the hair so that’ll be quite interesting.

  • Bob Ibold

    I think Aaron is right when he says “decorative.” Why not fill the the cracks with thick black paint to match? With more hair and touch-up it would be stunning!

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