India & Himalayas

Old but still colorful Indian mask

Q:  I bought this mask in San Francisco, California in the late 1990s for somewhere around $100 or so..I don’t remember exactly. It seemed old at the time, and I remember the merchant saying something about it being some kind of “ceremonial” mask but I forgot all that he said. Size is about person-size. Material seems to be some kind of plant material that was pressed or glued together, but I don’t know exactly. It isn’t solid wood but definitely a natural plant-based material of some sort.  Bruce, 1194

A:  “India is the world’s largest democracy and the second most populous nation in the world. It is a land that is becoming rapidly industrialized and technologically advanced while remaining a cradle for many ancient cultures which have maintained their traditions to this day.” (a letter written by the Smithsonian secretary in 1985)

True. But for the past 32 years very little attention has been paid to the folk art of India. I’m especially interested in their masquerade, but I don’t get much help from the libraries and museums. If anyone know the character’s name, the pradesh from which it comes, how it’s used, etc., please comment!



  • Bruce

    Thanks, Bob, for looking at this for me. India, huh? Well, that’s a start, but I hope some people can chime in with a bit more detail. If any collector is interested in this one, feel free to contact me. It is currently in my parents garage and they are (alas, sad, but true) trying to get rid of some stuff and I’d hate to see this get damaged (or worse) or not be enjoyed by someone…it is very decorative and really exudes a great positive energy.

  • Bob Ibold

    The Mask Man blog does not sell masks. If you want to put it on eBay or some other website, you may post a comment with instructions here. Good luck!

    • Bruce

      Sorry, I didn’t mean it like that…I’m not trying to use your website to sell it at all..I’m genuinely interested in the history of it and ultimately want to keep it. My mom thought of putting it on eBay but I stopped her. I have no idea of what it is even worth anyways…but at the end of the day I feel pretty attached to this old guy 🙂

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