• Africa

    Yellow Zaouli mask from Africa

    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…

  • Africa

    A special African mask

    Q: I’ve owned this mask for around 20 years and have often wondered about its authenticity and ethnicity. Lega Bwama has been suggested, but I’m not too convinced. I think it may be a mash-up of several styles aimed for the tourist market. Very much obliged if you could give me your opinion on this. The patina is fine and it is quite nicely carved. I am only interested in African masks that are old or tribaly used. Dave, 1743 A: This is a “mash-up” meant for sales to tourists. Of the many African mask collectors throughout the world, most would like to own old, used ones. Unfortunately, almost African…

  • Africa

    Typical African mask for sale

    Q: I have owned this mask over 25 years. I bought it from a primitive art dealer in New Jersey. I was told it was an exorcism mask from Belgian Congo. Elephant hair on chin, animal teeth, and remnants of leather on the face of the mask have been added. I learned it was most likely from the Kumu tribe. My original thought was that it was Sukuma. My guess on age is right around turn of century if not older. Most people I show it to tell me it is one of the scariest, most disturbing things then have seen first hand. Shaun, 1740 A: Your primitive African mask…

  • Africa

    Hemba helmet mask from the DRC

    Q: Please, can you appraise this mask for me. Sold to me as Ekoi, which it is not. Possibly Suku? It has a leather covering of the facial and neck areas. Bought in South Africa. No provenance. I collect masks from Western and Central African– genuine, tribally-used items only. David, 1736 A: You are correct. It is a Hemba mask from the Suku people in the South-western part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Unfortunately, I must remind you that reproductions of Hemba helmet masks are numerous, and they are always made to look old and used. Yours may be an exceptionally well-made repro. I advise you to keep…

  • Africa

    Ogoni or Ibibio mystery mask

    Q: This is an Ogoni tribal helmet mask from Nigeria, West Africa. Got it at a really great price. Carved out of wood, with glass eyes, it is more unique for any other mask we have come across before. It measures almost 16″ from top to bottom x 8″ wide x 8″ deep. It has shells across the top of the eyes, with one is missing. It appears to be quite old, but not sure of age. My guess is mid century or earlier. Shaun, 1734 A: Unusual design, very well made and a lovely patina that suggests usage and care, but you bought it cheap and have no provenance.…

  • Africa

    Bwa Nunuma mask, Burkina Faso

    The Bwa and Nuna live in the dry savannah land of central Burkina Faso. Like other peoples in this area, the Bwa and Nuna seek the help of powerful spirits who live in the wild forests, bush country, and rivers surrounding their villages. The older Bwa masks were made with leaves, feathers and vegetable fibers. They were used in the rituals of the Do initiation society. Later, the Bwa began to carve wooden masks for their rituals, being based on the masks of their neighbors the Gurunsi/Nunuma and their cousins the Bobo. All Bwa masks represent the spirits of the nature who have some influence on the human being. Wishing…

  • Africa

    Nice Chewa mask from Malawi

    My first Chewa post was in Jan, 2019: https://masksoftheworld.com/one-of-my-favorite-masks-chewa/ Recently I saw this one and really liked it. If you have an interest in authentic ethnographic masks, especially African, please explore the Nyau society masks of the Chewa in Malawi, East Africa. Masquerade there is still going strong. Bob, 1730

  • Africa

    Pende deformity mask

    Q: Here you will find the second mask ‘black and white’. With my best regards. Eduard, 1729 A: It would have been nice if he would have furnished more info such as size, who, when and how much. I’m posting it, along with two different Pende deformity masks, because they are so interesting. There are also a few other places in the world where deformity masks are used in masquerade. Here is some information from the Canadian Museum of History. The mask comes from the Central Pende region in the Bandundu province, in the southern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It falls into the category of mbuya…

  • Africa

    Kefwebe mask for a museum

    Q: I purchased this Kifwebe mask from the photographer Berenice Abbott in 1990. She said that she traded photographic work for it with an African art dealer in New York in 1932. I have been asked to loan it for an exhibition and it would be helpful if I could supply the museum with some information about its origin. I am not looking to sell the mask. Todd, 1728 A: Of course, your mask made by the famous Songye tribe in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The following description comes from Rand African Art. You can find many more scans and copy with the aid of Google. This Kifwebe…

  • Africa

    New fake of Dan bird mask

    Q: A good friend of mine is selling his collection of antiques because unfortunately he has to be admitted to a care home because of his advanced age. He offers me this ‘bird mask'(see attached photos). I like beautiful, old things. I am not an expert on masks at all. It does not seem to me to be a product for the tourists, but to be tribal, ceremonial and ‘old’. Can you help me with the determination and how much can I spend without paying too much? For the time being, I cannot provide you with additional information other than these photos. Eduard, 1727 A: Similar “old masks” have been…