East Asia

Chinese decorative art

Q:  I came across this Devil-faced mask at a local auction. It appears to be made from wood, I’m not sure what material the eyes are made of. Have you got any clue where this grinning devil originated from? I recall paying £65 for it, perhaps too much money but I like it.  Alex, 1186

A:  The quality of this wood carving is very high. The eyes are painted, but sometimes glass is used. It comes from China where skilled carvers have been slowly cranking them out for several generations. They are sold in tourist shops and art galleries around the world. Many different characters are portrayed. They are always beautiful to look at.

I rarely blog about art that resembles a mask, but isn’t. Frankly, real masks that have, or could be, used in culture are just as pretty and always more interesting. Many mask collectors become experts in the ethnography of the culture in which the masks are created.  C+

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