India & Himalayas

Unusual carved wood bird

Mystery Bird Mask
Mystery Bird Mask

Q:  Thanks again for doing that quick assessment for us here. I’m not sure what will happen with the masks, but your information is extremely helpful in deciding. I have another question if you wouldn’t mind. I now have one more mask. Is there anything you can tell me about this piece? I don’t intend to sell it. I just really liked it and am curious if I can learn anything about it.  Lynn, 665

I’m not sure about this one. I have seen helmet masks of large-beaked birds where the user can see through the open beak. They are made in West Africa, the Himalayas, China, the South Pacific, and even the Americas. Well, hang on to this guy and maybe someone will write in. You could also spend some time with the major search engine using keywords like “carved wood bird mask.” Happy hunting.


  • Aaron

    This looks a lot like a Nepalese Garuda I sold once. Sometimes these masks are very elaborate and colorful, and sometimes they look like this one.

    • Bob Ibold

      In remote areas of SE Asia there are various ethnic groups that practice masquerade. That is just a wild guess on my part. Bob

  • Alain Rouveure

    I just came across this wonderful site about masks. How l missed it all those years…? OK. I just read the above with great interest.
    I have several similar old masks in my collection and l only collect from Nepal, and the Himalayas and Tibet, not south east Asia.
    To me is is not the Garuda (which looks similar) but the bird Jatayu from the Hindu Epic Story RAMAYANA.
    The story is great but complicated so read about it. Jatayu is a great character. Unfortunately it looks modern to me rather than a mask that would have made to be worn by dancers. It is very decorative and was probably made in Nepal.
    Over thirty years of traveling in the Himalayas and Nepal in particular, l have seen hundreds of masks many new and quite a few like this one.
    Yes it is highly decorative and the craftsman did a great job with the patina.
    Well done. Alain

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