• Africa

    Decorative tribal-style mask from Africa

    Q: I was wondering if you could help identify anything about this mask (e.g. tribe, purpose, authenticity, date of production, type of wood). I bought it at a street market in Swakopmund, Namibia in 2017, for between $100-$150. It is wood, horn, cloth and some kind of white faded pigment. Height is about 21″ or 27″ with the raffia beard. Weight is about 5 pounds. Thanks so much for any help! Chad, 1662 A: When I wrote Masks of the World in 2014, the last chapter was titled “Beginner’s Guide” and it included a section called “Different Degrees of Authenticity.” Here is number 3 of 6 paragraphs. Decorative– This term…

  • Africa

    Janus head mask from Africa

    Q: I’ve done as much research as I can and have found nothing similar. My story with the mask is interesting; I found it while out on a bike ride. It was sitting on a sand bar, in the middle of a river (Platte / Denver). The form caught my eye from afar and initially I thought it was a child’s car seat. It does not appear to have any water damage. The only damage is the missing piece by the eye, on one side and the two expansion/contraction cracks, in the white face one the other side. It has been that way since I came a cross it. I…

  • Africa

    Okukwe mask, Galoa people, Gabon

    Q: I am wondering if you may be able to tell me a little bit about this mask and it’s origin. Particularly if you believe it is an inuit mask. It is hand carved and made of a heady thick wood. It is a little larger than the size of my face. The white on the face appears dirty in the photos but it is simply aged. Any assistance would be appreciated. Lindy, 1660 A: This is a tourist mask made somewhere in West Africa. Most of the carvers there are experts in artificial aging because it helps them get more money for their products. Now let me say something positive…

  • Africa

    The problem with African masks

    Q: This mask was recently bought online. I know very little about it, except that it was exhibited at the Allied Arts Association in Richland, Washington in 1953, with an exhibition label on the back. It certainly seems to have age. It is made of a soft and light wood. The chin is rounded as if it was often held on the chin. I would love to know more. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Ryan, 1657 A: If you want to use this impressive 16-inch carving as a decor item, hang it on the wall and tell folks that it looks like an over-sized Dan mask from West Africa…

  • Africa

    Kwele mask from Gabon

    Q: Please help me to get more information of this mask that I bought in Africa. I want to know it’s origin and it’s value. Adalberto, 1655 A: Despite its appearance this Kwele mask was probably made to be sold. Kwele masks (also called a Pibibuze) are used by the Bwete association, which maintains social order, and were primarily seen at funerals. They are also used in ceremonies to promote well-being and community. In recent years, some do not have eye slits and are shown to onlookers rather than worn at dance ceremonies. The masks are considered to be among the most beautiful in African art when they have not…

  • Africa

    Batshioko mask from Zambia

    Q: My mother was an artist who created masks in some of her work. She had some interesting masks which she collected for design inspiration. This one is the most unusual. I’d be interested to know where it is from. Linda, 1648 A: We don’t see these very often. I’m going to assume it’s bark cloth stretched over a frame of bent twigs about 15 inches in height. Probably authentic and about 50 years old. B

  • Africa

    Mystery Kuba mask from Central Africa

    Q: I may have a mystery mask for you. The attached was labeled as a Kuba M’boom mask. It may be Kuba, but I doubt it’s a M’boom. I guess it’s possible. The front is partially covered in copper sheet. Do you have any notion what kind of mask it is? Aaron, 1644 A: The only thing that strongly suggests it might be a Kuba M’boom is the forehead area. There is also the possibility of your mask coming from other tribes in the central Congo (DRC) region such as the Lele, Bushoong, Ngeende, and some others. I know, that’s not much help. So let’s hope that sone of our…

  • Africa

    Pwoom Itok mask of the Kuba

    Q: I am just trying to find out actual provenance and the type of mask this was used for, beyond era. I think it looks like a West African mask. Penny, 1643 A: It’s too late for you to get any provenance. But I can tell that it probably comes from the Kuba people of the Democratic Republic of Congo, West Africa. This particular style of masks is used in various ceremonies for young men. The Kuba do not formally worship the creator god. At one time the Kuba had a religion based on ancestor worship, but this seems to have died out, although divination is still practiced in order…

  • Africa

    Dan runner mask from West Africa

    Q: Hi, this is Marc from the Netherlands. I recently bought this Dan runner mask at a local auction house for 200 eur. No provenance. Size 23x13x7cm. It has a small crack. Very nice shiny patina, looks quite authentic too me. But what does the expert say? Marc, 1638 A: Like most true experts, I know my limitations… especially when asked to authenticate an African mask over the internet. Some of the carvers who specialize in fine reproductions can fool museum curators! Braking all the rules, I will courageously declare this Dan runner mask to be authentic. Look at all three pictures and blow them up as much as you…

  • Africa

    Bamana Ntomo mask from Mali

    Q: I was given this mask as a gift from a friend with quite a bit of African masks. I’d like to know it’s value. I do not collect them but the giver does, and he has a large collection. Most were given to him from patients, mainly from Africa. I have more pictures if needed. Thank you. Michelle, 1635 A: Instead of featuring your mask, I put it in second place. The big photo is from a blog I posted more than two years ago. This mask certainly looks like an authentic Ntomo, but it could be a carefully made reproduction. If the latter, it will still be a…