Native America

Northwest Coast mask repro

NWC mask
NWC mask

Q: Here are photos of some masks I have picked up in the last 8 months. What do you think about the bird one?  Jim, 733

A: The masks you sent all look old and used, but whether they are or not remains to be seen. Interest in collecting NWC masks goes back to the late 19th century. Indians started making masks for sale to tourists way before 1900 and have been doing so ever since. Sometime after the WWII Balinese carvers started doing the same, as well as US and Canadian hobbyists. Nowadays NWC reproductions are plentiful and often quite convincing. Of course, I can’t tell by looking at the computer screen whether yours are authentic or not. If I had to guess I would say they are all fake. The good news is that some very talented NWC Indians still make masks for sale to collectors. They do not artificially age their carvings and many of them are beautiful and culturally correct. The work of these skilled craftsmen is a fine thing to collect.  C

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