Maybe old and used

West Africa
West Africa

Q:  I am fascinated by old items, but have no interest in commercial masks. This mask was found in an old explorer/adventurer estate auction. He had been traveling Africa on digs in the 50’s. I have little or no idea of the origin or age, but is sure it is not commercial, but an original.  653

A:  Based on the three beautiful photos you sent in I think there may be some collector interest in this mask. I would agree that it looks like it might be old and used. What is frustrating is that it seems to combine different tribal design criteria. Let’s hope someone will help us identify it properly. However, it is almost always impossible to authenticate tribal usage and age from photographs. Many African masks are artificially aged in a very convincing manner.


  • leon.coray

    it is a galoa mask from Gabon the nose eyebridge accounts for its characteristics and the triangel leaping accross it s face too!It is difficult to tell if it is old. They are good in making look good artefacts so don’t be sure to soon. Literature: Gabon Tribal arts edition schulte weiss


  • Herman

    Thank you for your reply- The mask belongs to me. I had a good look at the mask again and scrutinise it carefully under magnification and a lamp. In none place there are a woodborer hole- through the white area- there are no white inside the hole. Dings and damage to mask are due to use and abuse- No abrasive or tooling marks apart from original carving. I am forced to treat it with Zinc Naphtenate to protect against insect attack and fungal decay.
    I am confident it is old and with the bit of Provenance behind it I will feel comfortable selling it. The previous owners being archaeologists, working primarily with Pygmy tribes, a family member have agreed to give me access to their diaries / logs of their time in Central and West Africa.
    Best regards Herman

    • Eric

      This is unfortunately a modern fake, aged with chemicals. The style is a fantasy twist on Galoa and Aduma, and the wear is also artificial.

  • Josema

    I have another one almost like this one: the same rectangular-shaped eyes, the black triangles on front and chin, the carving on hair…

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