India & Himalayas

Fake Nepal Ganesh mask

Q: Hi, after much study I just bought a nice Nepal Ganesh Mask. Can you help me figure out if it is “real” or one made for the tourist trade? It is so border line, either an antiqued great mock up or maybe real. I’m really excited to share this! Larry, 1552

A: Sorry, Larry, but this is an example of a reproduction that was made for the tourist trade and export. I thought some of our less experienced visitors could learn something about recognizing these fakes.

Almost all tourist masks are antiqued to make them look old and used. Yours is a good example of the popular tinted-varnish technique. After the mask is carved and painted it is given a final coating of matte varnish with a little dark brown paint mixed in. Before it dries fully it is carefully rubbed with a rag.

There are many other ways to make wood look old. Sometimes the results are so convincing that even the Mask Man is fooled.

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