Mask made from a turtle shell

Q:  I just bought this unusual turtle mask at a local thrift/consignment shop for $25. I’ve no idea of it’s origin or function and hesitate to take a guess! Would appreciate any information you can give me about it. Mickey, 1239

A:  Turtle shells can be the right size and weight to fit nicely over the face of a performer. I think they have been used as masks for thousands of years in certain parts of the world. Of course, it’s harder to find them than masks made with more common materials. Yours might come from Central Africa, Melanesia (PNG, etc.) or the Himalayan region. It will be a very interesting addition to your collection. Let’s hope the facial decorations, woven band and feathers can be recognized by one of our readers.

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