Let’s identify this strange mask


Q: Of all the masks I have from the corners of the world, I only have one whose origins are unknown to me. It has these little perforations on the side which I assume is for attaching hay, or feathers, or maybe leaves for decoration. I would love to find out where it came from. A friend bought it for me as a housewarming gift and said the man that sold the mask spoke no English.  Marcos, 598

A: This is a fine looking mask, but not something that I can identify. Frankly, this happens frequently. The best we can do is hope that one of the blog’s readers will have an idea. The wood is carved thinly. There appear to be 9 holes on each side, but none on the top or bottom.


  • Marcos Carvalho

    Thanks, my buddy that bought it for me said he thought the man he bought it from said something about it being from Guinea. Trouble is that there are 5 Guineas in the world: 3 in Africa (Guinea-Bissau, Equatorial Guinea, and Guinea), and 2 in Oceania (New Guinea and Papua New Guinea).

  • Bob Ibold

    Like any detective, I appreciate the tip. After double checking all the possibilities in the various Guineas, I can assure you it was a false lead. Maybe it is from some other part of Africa. And we can’t rule out Asia.

  • DUBOIS Marc

    Dear all,
    In my opinion this mask is coming from RDC (République Démocratique du Congo) en NOT from any Guinea.
    It is a combination of the “Soku Mutu” (ape) mask from the LUBA and a (very free) interpretation of a “Kifwebe” mask from the SONGYE. Such a combination would be possible because the two tribes are neighbors.
    I hope this will help.

  • Marcos

    Thank you very much for the tip! I have a friend currently working on the DRC, will ask her if she has seen anything similar over there. That’s great detective work, thanks again!

  • miles

    This little fella is a monkey & he came from the Ivory Coast or Cote d’Ivorie. Made by the Wee or Kran people, this is a Kaogle mask. Originally associated with warfare & also used for judicial & educational ceremonies, a mask like this is now generally used to entertain villagers or tourists. Kaogle masks are danced frequently, & are also associated with the Poro – monkey masks like this served a function in these secret mask societies. Chimpanzees or monkeys don’t generally have that good a reputation so this fella may be regarded as mischievous. There you go…

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