• East Asia

    Large, long-nosed Tengu mask

    Q: This large mask is Ht 19″; Depth back to nose tip 17″; and Width 12″. Clear & blue glass inserts. Appears to be wood or hard surface with top layer of cloth or paper or bark. Holes at bottom of nose and eyes. Bought 10 years ago from airline attendant. Do not remember what I paid for it. She got it during her South Pacific travels. Mindi, 1784 A: The Tengu mask is seen with a red face and an unusually large or long nose. Early depictions of Tengu in Japan show them as kite-like beings who can take a human-like form, often retaining wings, head or beak. The…

  • East Asia

    Traditional Japanese Noh mask

    Q: I want to sell this Noh mask. Could you give me some idea of its value? Sharon, 1775 A: If you want retail, wholesale and insurance values, plus marketing advice, your will have to pay for an appraisal. What you are getting now is a B- grade… at no charge! Your attractive piece is a typical male character from a Noh theater play. However, it has been hastily made for sale to Japanese homemakers or foreign tourists. How do we know that? If you enlarge the front scan you can see that the painted details are sloppy. But on the wall it is well enough made to look professional.…

  • East Asia

    Thai Hanneman mask

    Q: I recently inherited a Thailand papier-mâché Hanneman gold painted mask. I’ve seen a few on here. It’s vintage and I was just wondering the worth. Michelle, 1751 A: These “Mystery Mask” blogs help to determine the worth of your mask with an ABCD-grade. This is a not real appraisal, which always requires a fee for dollar-value research and marketing suggestions. Your Hanneman is well made with especially strong papier-mache and good painting for long usage in traditional dances… or the collections of people who can afford them. B+ No charge! IT’S FREE!

  • East Asia

    3 Japanese masks new to me

    A friend sent me an article titled “10 Things You Might Not Know About Traditional Japanese Masks” by Lucy Dayman. She is an Australian-born, Japan-based journalist, copywriter and editor. It is an excellent article, but I new only seven of the masks. So here are the remaining three. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did. The cherub-faced Okame is the wife of Hyottoko, a cheerful lady who’s a symbol of good luck. Technically Okame goes under two names; Otafuku and Okame. Otafuku means good fortune while Okame means tortoise a Japanese symbol of a long life, so no matter which name you’re using she’s a positive sign…

  • East Asia

    Japan’s magnificent Noh masks

    The Kasshiki-otoko noh mask you see here is from the Meiji period, an era of history which extended from 1868 to 1912. It is very carefully carved wood, painted, lacquered and polished several times. This beautiful piece can be found at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. The word Noh means talent, skill and craft in art performance. Noh is the oldest theater style played today. Noh is classical Japanese musical drama based on tales from traditional literature performed since the 14th century. In the story, supernatural creature transforms into human shape and tells the story. The actors tell a story through gestures and appearance in masks. They capture the…

  • East Asia

    Wuhan has masks also

    Nowadays we think of Wuhan as birthplace of the Coronavirus. It is located in the central part of China and is known for hi-tech and other industries. Not so much for folk art. I searched the internet for masks from Hubei Province and its capital, Wuhan, and only could find this. It shows a carver finishing off a mask for the Nuo opera… or it could be for sale to tourists. Let’s hope we survive this worldwide pandemic. Bob

  • East Asia

    Chinese Nuo Opera mask

    Q: I acquired this special mask some 20 years ago. Seems to have good wear and tear to me. It’s a quite big mask (h 32cm w 33cm). I think it’s an ancient opera mask. But I’m not sure. Maybe you know more about it. Patrick, 1691 A: I only know this about your mask. Nuo opera is popular in southern China. Characterized by its special features such as ferocious appearance, unique dresses and adornments, it is also linked to exorcism. The opera is a religious performance intrinsic to the culture of Nuoism, a type of Chinese folk religion. The purpose of Nuo opera is to drive away devils, disease…

  • East Asia

    Bugaku King Rangryo mask, Japan

    Our great friend, Aron Fellmeth of Second Face Museum of Cultural Masks has this to say: Bugaku is an official court dance of Japan, dating back to about 500 C.E. During the Heian period, Bugaku dances were so central to protocol that nearly all ceremonies and festivals included them. The dance was especially important in appeasing angry gods, purifying the village, and petitioning the gods for rain or a good harvest. The dance is performed to the music of drums and flutes. The dancers enter the stage singly in succession, then dance together in pairs, in synchronicity to varying tempos. Each dance has its own mask and is named after…

  • East Asia

    Recent Bugaku mask from Japan

    Q:  I’ve got a new mystery mask for you.  I was in Japan all December, filming ceremonies and collecting masks for the Museum, and I came across this one in an antique store in Kyoto, which I absolutely do not recognize.  This is not a tourist item, but I don’t recognize the type.  The back gives the date (1985) and what appears to be someone’s name, or possibly the name of a workshop, but the kanji is unclear.  Do any of your visitors have expertise in Japanese folk traditions?  Aaron,1655 A: My guess is Bugaku. These kind of masks can go back 800 years. I’ve heard a few of them…

  • East Asia

    Old Chinese bronze helmet mask

    Q: This was a gift. I am curious about it’s value. (later) I finally got in touch with the collector who gifted me the mask. He lived in China for a few years over 30 years ago as an employee of the Cuban government. This is where he purchased the helmet. I did a little more research and found an antique dealer on Etsy who recently sold an almost identical helmet to Kentuckyana Jones in July of this year. Shelly, 1639 A: Both masks are about 10.5 inches in height. The ornament on top is 3 inches. The circumference at the nose is roughly 24 inches. As you can see,…