Real masks vs. tourist souvenirs

Here is a traditional African animal mask made by the Bobo people of Burkina Faso. Though it has sustained some damage, I would still be proud to own it. It is quite beautiful and with a little research you could learn about the animal portrayed, the purpose of the ceremony, its anthropology, art history… and more.

The three other carvings cannot be identified. They were made to be sold as a souvenirs or as wall art. Tourist masks like this can be fine for decoration. But real masks– the ones that are actually worn in native cultures– are often better looking and always more interesting.

Note that two of these three don’t have eye holes and the other one has been purposely damaged to make it look old. Way more souvenirs are sent to me than real masks. I answer these people but usually don’t post their pictures on the blog. The ones I do post are real or have other interesting features. Don’t hesitate to send me what you have discovered at the thrift shop or junk dealer. Pleasant surprises have been known to happen!


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