To collect or not to collect

West Africa
West Africa

Q:  This mask from Africa is at least  50 years old.  I do not know more about it … bought it 20 years ago in a garage sale. I’m not a collector of masks. Thanks.  Louise, 728

A:  Thanks for the excellent photos. The mask is from somewhere in West African. It was designed with a combination of references to various cultural traditions… then made to look used and old. Objects like this are are very attractive to tourists and an important source of income for Africans. They are also easy to find at local sales and on the internet… and they should be quite affordable. That makes them ideal wall decor for most people. Collectors want  masks that conform to specific cultural traditions and are made with more care. C-


  • ed

    Hi. It is probable that this mask is associated with inventive characters of the Central Pende peoples, and not West African. It as strong attributes of a “clown” character often mimicked during new creative performances merged with more “traditional” styles. If correct (and confirmed), this mask would certainly rate higher than a typical “B”.

  • Bob Ibold

    Ed, the guy who wrote this comment, is a regular contributor to the Yahoo discussion group called African_Arts. He know more about African art than I do. I’d go with his opinion on this mask.

  • ed

    Hi Bob:

    We are all learning, and I certainly include myself with you… African art, culture and societies are fascinating and will take us several lifetimes to understand and appreciate.
    I must say, I have always been a fan of your website because your passion and appreciation come through, as well as your desire to help people. I commend you sir. Please keep up the goodt works!

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