Tribal deformity and sickness masks

Back on July 22, 2017 I received the following email. “As you know, collectors occasionally run into deformity and disease masks. I’d like to hear more about them.  I’d especially be indebted if you started a blog thread on the topic.”  Nate, 1190

The first mask is a Mbangu from the Pende people of the DRC in central Africa.  It represents a hunter who has suffered a stroke from the curse of a local sorcerer.

The second is from Sri Lanka and would be used by a village shaman to cure a patient.

The third mask shows a poor man with a very large goiter. From Baja Verapaz, Guatemala, it is part of the Patzcar, a ritual that is often used for healing. Nate said it comes from the Jim Pieper collection. I hope you and others will share a picture of these unusual masks with our viewers. Only some of them come from Africa.

Deformity and sickness masks are very unusual, but they are found in several African cultures, the Himalayas, Sri Lanka, Guatemala, and probably other places. To Nate and I, this is a very interesting form of masquerade. Surely there are some doctors and medical researchers who collect them, or anthropologists who write about them. Can you help us with a comment?   The Mask Man,  1485

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