Deformity masks in other cultures

Q:  As you know, collectors occasionally run into deformity and disease masks. I’d like to hear more about them.  I’d especially be indebted if you started a blog thread on the topic.  Nate, 1190

A:  This first one is from the Ibibio people of Nigeria. It measures 7 3/4″ high. The small face with high raised forehead above tiny eyes, carved with no nose or upper lip and with teeth showing in the open face depicts either syphilitic yaws or a severe cleft palate. It comes from the Cobbs Auctioneers.

The second one is a Mbangu from the Pende of the DRC. 12″ high. It represents a hunter who has suffered a stroke from the curse of a local sorcerer. You can see it on page 17 of Masks of the World by me and Troy Yohn.

The third mask shows a poor man with a very large goiter. From Baja Verapaz, Guatemala, it is part of the Patzcar, a ritual that is often used healing. Nate said it comes from the Jim Pieper collection.

I hope you and others will share a picture of these unusual masks with our viewers. Only some of them come from Africa. Others come from Mexico, Guatemala, Sri Lanka, the Himalayas, and more.



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