East Asia

Old monkey mask from SW China

Chinese Nuo mask
Chinese Nuo mask

Every so often I plan to repeat one of my favorite masks posted years back. This one is a Nuo monkey mask from Jinguan village, Anshun district, Guizhou provincial territory. It’s an 8.3 inch thin carving with a sturdy native repair. The old Nuo mask was obviously used for a great many years and the wear has resulted in a wonderful patina. The monkey’s face is portrayed with deftly carved lines and each eye is highlighted with a  metal tack. In my opinion– Chinese folk art at its best.

Masks like this are becoming hard to find. There are two reasons for this scarcity. Nuo masks are made and used by ethnic minority people who are being pressured by the government to give up their traditional customs in favor of modern life. The other problem is that the growing middle class in China is eager to collect examples of their country’s folk art.

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