• Africa,  Oceania,  Unknown

    Oceanic Mask?

    Q: Daniela ask: Unfortunately I don’t know anything about the mask. We bought it from somebody in Czech.                                                                                                                        

  • Oceania

    Dayak Mask from Borneo

    Q: I found this carved wood mask in a consignment store several years ago. It is 20 inches long, has an articulated mouth and holes along the open edge in back to hold bark strips or hair. There are no modern materials used, no wire or nails. Just wondering if you knew where it might be from.

  • Oceania

    Uncontacted tribes are disappearing

    Q:  The family member who gifted this was unsure if he bought it in PNG or perhaps Australia. Even if just a tourist item, I would love to know any information you could share, country, are they masks or shields, did the snake and waterfowl represent anything?  Robert, 1807 A:  We don’t often see masks like this any more. It has been made by a tribesman in a remote part of the Sepic River area of Papua New Guinea. I can tell it is one of his first masks for trading with white men. His choice of colors, designs and workmanship are a little off. Also, he did not attempt…

  • Oceania

    Gourd mask from East Timor

    Q: I am unable to define the possible origin of this mask. Probably East Timor, Flores or the Malukus. Material is calabash, not coconut. Size 22 cm. It belonged to an old collection. Patrick, 1794 A:  Gourds can make excellent masks and are used by cultures in Europe, Asia, Africa, and all of the Americas.  This old example is beautifully done and in excellent condition. Patrick seems to know where it might have come from. I agree with him on East Timor. The are a number of indigenous groups there who do masks with this kind of simple decoration. And there are calabash-type gourds growing in that part of the…

  • Oceania

    Hat mask from Vanuatu in Solomon Is.

    Last night I watched Antiques Roadshow and was surprised to see a mask similar to this one, which comes from Oceanic Arts Australia. Authentic tribal masks are seldom seen on TV shows, or anywhere else, for that matter. This beautiful older and used ceremonial mask is from the Namba People from the interior of Malekula Island in Vanuatu. In 1986 trips were made to Vanuatu to look at traditional art and culture. The people took us into their homes, fed us and gave us a chance to get to know them and make contacts with tradition artists preparing for ceremony. This beautiful hat mask came from the village of Venamboas…

  • Oceania

    Abelam yam mask from PNG

    Q: Looking to ID this mask. The story is that it was brought back from somewhere in the Pacific Theater during or a little after WWII. It has a movable mouth (or lower jaw) and a tongue made up of some kind of rolled up material. Overall kind of beat up and moth eaten. Probably had some fur on it at some time and has a tail at the top. Kind of a rat shape to it. Overall length, not including the tail, is about 31″. Daryl, 1722 A: We are thinking this mask is from Papua New Guinea’s East Sepik Region. This is where the Abelam people live. A…

  • Oceania

    Ancestor mask from Papua New Guinea

    Q: I inherited this mask and want to know more. Not sure where it was purchased, seems to be made of wood and quite large with strange swirls carved into the eyes. Mattie, 1721 A: Great ancestor mask from a Sepik River village in eastern PNG. Often these masks are made to be hung on the walls of the men’s meeting house. Notice that has no eye holes. Technically it is more like a religious sculpture. This carving has the distinctive features of the region, although the tongue is unusual. You might want to check out another one which also has a tongue hanging out: https://dev.masksoftheworld.com/mask-from-sepik-river-png/ Unfortunately, I’m not certain…

  • Oceania

    Old Melanesian masks

    The first mask is from Northern New Ireland, Papua New Guinea; the second is a Tago mask from Tami Island, PNG; and the third comes from Kamge village in the East Sepik Province of PNG. These are 3 of 17 outstanding masks that represent different cultural groups occupying the large part of the South Pacific called Melanesia. They are all from all from the Australia Museum listed below. You will surely recognize some of them in other famous museums and books. After West Africa, Melanesia has the richest assortment of highly artistic masks in the world. During the 19th century many great European artists were profoundly influenced by the folk…

  • Oceania

    Cool tourist mask from PNG

    Q: You have seen this helmet mask back in 2010. I wonder if you have any further information on it since then. I bought it from a consignment shop on lay away…college student…little money. Mickey, 1678 A: I can’t remember that far back, but today I think your mask is an impressive carving from the Sepik River area of New Guinea. It is too creative to be considered a reproduction, and is tourist art at its best. Let’s hope there are some collectors and curators of Melanesian artifacts who would love a modern version of PNG traditional art. B