South America

Ticuna Indian ceremonial mask

aaaMystrySolvd-794Q:  Around 35 years ago, I used to live in San Francisco.  I was very friendly with the senior management at Macy’s Department Stores.  I had their top designer come out to my house to determine decorations….He told me that Macy’s SF had a South American exhibit in their downtown location…part of the exhibit were these masks from a museum in Ecuador…when the exhibit was over, the museum would not pay to have much of the exhibit returned, which included these masks.  Not knowing what to do with them, their designer decided to use them in my house for a part of the fee they charged me…he told me they were hand carved wooden masks by an indigenous tribe who lived in the Amazon….I assumed he was forthright as I didn’t have any way to verify this story…so I’ve had them on my wall both in San Francisco and now in the Seattle area for all these years.  But as I am now much older and trying to value my estate, I felt it’s time to determine what these masks are worth.  Ira, 793

A:  I sent you an estimate for appraising the collection. In the meantime, you could do a little research on the Ticuna tribe, some of whom can be found close to the eastern border of Ecuador. The Ticuna (also Magüta, Tucuna, Tikuna, or Tukuna) are an indigenous people of Brazil, Colombia, and Peru. They are the most numerous tribe in the Brazilian Amazon. I believe all of your wood masks were made in a single Tikuna village, perhaps by the same carver. This one and some of the others have bark-cloth mantles that would be part of the costume. It is an impressive collection.  A

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