Q: Another mask found in a flea market– really well carved and sanded, unpainted, with eyes holes, so it could be worn, though uncomfortably as there is no place for nose. Just curious about its provenance. Looks Native American to me. The wood is tight grained and a soft brown color. I am stumped. Can you help? Paule, 720
A: This is a Devil mask from the Boruca (Borunca, Brunka), a small culture located in southwestern Costa Rica. Even though they are closer to the Pacific Ocean, their masks seem to be influenced by Caribbean-African culture. Typically they are very well carved and painted. Yours is not painted and would therefore disappoint most collectors. Why not paint it? You can find plenty of pictures of beautiful examples on the internet. It will increase its value.
Painting this mask will increase its value. We normally would not advise someone to repaint a mask. That is usually a bad idea, but in this case the mask is unfinished… and I think you will have a good time doing it, and I’d love to see a photo when you are done.