Q: I would be really grateful if you could tell me if any of my masks are worth anything. I am only sending you photos of one mask, but I have about 20. Maybe I can upload them to a website and then send you a link to view them ? Kia, 1744
A: Zaouli is a traditional dance of the Guro people of central Ivory Coast. The Zaouli mask, used in the dance of the same name, was created in the 1950s, reportedly inspired by a girl named Djela Lou Zaouli. However, stories on the origins of the mask are varied, and each mask can have its own symbolic history. Each Guro village has a local Zaouli dancer (always male), performing during funerals and celebrations. The dance is believed to increase the productivity of a village. It is performed as tool of unity for the Guro community, and by extension, the whole country. (Wikipedia)
This is about as real as you can get with an African mask. Anthropologists and tourist have taken many photos of the Zaouli ceremony, and they also can buy the masks them from the dancers. Of course, most of us want to own old, used Africa masks, but that is rarely possible. Incidentally, when a villager makes or buys a masks to be used for ceremonies he wants it brightly colored. Why would he want to artificially age it?
Kia, appraisals are a good idea, but you do have to pay for them. If you wish to get an estimate from me I will have to look at well focused, hi-res scans of your collection. Then I’ll send you an email. A