• Africa

    Decorative Mwana Pwo mask

    Q: I stumbled upon your website when I was trying to research this mask. I found in my parents attic. I simply have no information on it, and I’m very curious about its origin, make and purpose. There seems to be iron detail on lips and eyes, as well as a frog shape on the forehead. The “beard” and chin is made of woven string. The rest is carved wood with no makers mark. I’m so curious! If you have any insight or just jumping off points I would greatly appreciate it! Lisa, 1680 A: You can find out plenty of information on the popular Mwana Pwo mask on Google.…

  • Africa

    Male and female Kifwebe masks from Africa

    With the coronavirus still spreading and everything around town closed, lets spend more time on the computer learning about ethnographic masks. Your first website to visit could be Rand African Art. Here is part of what Rand says about a pair of Kifwebe masks in his collection. They are differentiated by gender and by their shape and size but also by the basic surface coloration and the decorative design and patterns on the surface. The masks said to represent a female are rarer than masks supposed to depict a male. Normally a band of mask-wearers is made up of one female mask and a number of male masks. All of…

  • Africa

    Kota reliquary mask from Gabon

    Q: I am interested in learning more about this Bakota reliquary mask from Gabon. It has two faces like the god Janus. I believe it was made using wood, copper and brass. It measures 16″ H and 6.5″ at its widest. I recently purchased the mask at a NYC thrift store for $45. Thank you for your assistance. Rick, 1676 A: This highly abstract form consists of a wooden sculpture that is almost entirely encased in metalwork. At the center are projecting eyes. In frontal and rear views, the figure’s contours evoke the schematic shape of a leaf with stem. A cylindrical protuberance at the top of the head is…

  • Africa

    Biombo mask from the Congo

    Q: I bought this mask with a label “Kambula, Zaire” at a vintage sales in Antwerp (Belgium) for 70 euro. It’s 38 cm long and 24 cm width. Wim, 1673 A: I’m guessing this is a Biombo mask from the central part of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Kambula is far away in South Africa. This handsome mask is probably a well-made reproduction, but it could be a used artifact. The design is beautiful, especially when viewed from the side. You got a good deal even if it is a repro.

  • Africa

    Special Dan mask from West Africa

    Here is an unusual Dan mask from Liberia in the late 19th-early 20th century and now in one of the Smithsonian museums. It is nicely carved in a slightly different way, and features a white paint treatment that really got my attention. I like this mask a lot! A Coronavirus suggestion: spend more time on your computer and share an interesting mask picture with us. You won’t hurt anyone. 1672

  • Africa

    Bozo puppet headpiece from Mali

    Q: In keeping with the current African theme, I thought you might like to see this large Bozo mask I picked up a few years ago. It’s approx 22″ tall by 14″W. I really liked the bright color and the cartoonish facial expression. I don’t think it’s very old, but it’s very well made, and one of the more interesting Bozo masks I’ve seen online. The following information is from the seller: “This is a fabulous Bozo Puppet that comes from Mali. Bozo Puppets are used by the people of the Bozo tribe of Central Mali to tell the stories of their tribe. The young men’s association is responsible for…

  • Africa

    Guro elephant mask from West Africa

    I sometimes find nice pictures on the internet to share with my viewers. This beautifully carved Guro elephant mask represents the spirit of Gu, the wife of Zamble; a supernatural being. Gu is often depicted as an animal. The Guro revere five: the antelope, the hyena, the leopard, the crocodile and the elephant. These are animals mostly found in the Savannah and tropical forest where the 200,000-strong tribe lives. The Guro people are found in Ivory Coast; their art is closely related to those of their neighbors, the Baule’s. Why don’t you share with our viewers some scans of a mask in your collection? Bob, 1670

  • Africa

    Chokwe Pwo mask from Central Africa

    Q: I can’t find anything like this to see an approximate value! I got it from an estate sale of a serious collector who was needing his home cleared so he could move. I have dozens of mask/pieces that I’m trying to identify right now, so any help with this one would be greatly appreciated. Kelli, 1669 A: You have a charming mask with marvelous hair and carefully woven natural cloth. On a stand it would be especially decorative. I would call it a collectible reproduction that should be quite affordable. But I won’t reject the possibility of it being an authentic artifact. You might want to consider having an…

  • Africa

    Pende Mbangu (sickness) mask

    Q: Bought this mask 8 years ago on the streets of Manhattan for $50. Guy that sold it said it came from the Pende people of the Congo. I’m wondering, even though I believe it’s made for tourists, is it really made in Congo and shipped from there? How authentic is it? How to check that? I was drawn to this mask because it felt more like it choose me than I choose it. Nihil, 1668 A: It represents a cursed man, someone who has been struck by sickness or has had deformities cast upon him by sorcerers. The mask comes from the Central Pende region in the Bandundu province,…

  • Africa

    Dan mask from Liberia or Ivory Coast

    Q: I got this mask at an open air market in New Orleans over 25 years ago and it has been hidden away on a basement shelf for the last 20 years. At the time I collected masks, but don’t any more. The person who sold it had two similar masks, but I only bought one. He said it was an African funeral mask…but I don’t remember any other details that he may have given. Some of the cowrie shells and stitching have come loose – I included the pictures, dust and all. I don’t know if it has any value or if there is more to the story. Brenda,…