South America

Black face mask


Q: I am looking to identify these masks. There are three that are made in the same style but with different facial features. The paint is the same on all, making me think they are for the tourist market, I am just not sure where. One has large lips and two have large noses of different styles. I have a few African masks and other tribal art. I inherited these three from my father and am unsure of their origin. Can you help? Thanks so much for your time. I have googled and the closest I think I have found is Sri Lanka, but I may be far off. I am hoping you can tell me where they are from.  Kim, 626

A: I can see why you thought of Sri Lanka. In my India & Himalayas section there is a black Kolam Moonu mask that is similar, but your mask definitely has eyes that are not from Sri Lanka. Also, at 11 inches high it is a little too large. Your other two also have black faces and didn’t give me any clues. My guess is that the character is meant to look like someone of African descent. I hope one of our visitors will help us out.


  • Aaron

    Those look like Ecuador eyes, which leads me to believe it might be a relatively early Mama Negra, the main character from the Fiesta de la Mama Negra.

  • Chris

    Yes, Aaron seems to be right, I have seen many older Ecuadorian masks and those eyes look like having exactly the same style. Also the voluminous front of the head looks like those heavy and large Cotopaxi province masks. If it is really an old Mama Negra mask, it could be quite rare.

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