Old, worn primitive mask

aaaMystrySolvd-864Q:  I recently purchase this mask in an online auction. It was listed at “Oceanic carved wooden effigy”. Any other information would be greatly appreciated. The braided hemp rope is included (through eye sockets).  The size it is 15″H X 10″W 4.5″D.  Dale, 864

A:  This mask is so damaged I can’t identify it. All we have to go on is that someone said they thought it was Oceanic. Because it is large and looks like an ancient artifact, it will appeal to some collectors. Others will be disappointed there is no description or history available.  I would advise beginning collectors to avoid items with no information. But if you’re just looking for  inexpensive decor, it doesn’t matter.  C


  • Chris

    Yes, Bob, but nevertheless it is beautiful – and interesting. I do not think it is Himalayan. It is clearly ancient, albeith insects and wet climate might have brought it rapidly to that state. The closest thing I came to for identification was actually the Mapuche in southern Chile. The shape of the whole face, the nose, the eyes and the mouth might point all to a Mapuche mask. There is some alteration on the moustache/beard part of the face – Mapuche masks very often have facial mouth hair attached or painted. Among the Mapuche, there was/still is a game called Palín, and the players used to cover their faces with masks to frighten the adversaries. But this is a quite wild guess. But if indeed the case, it would be very rare – there are not many old Mapuche masks left in the world because of policies of cultural annihilation in the past by the Chilean state.

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