• East Asia

    Chinese character mask

    Q:  I have another mask that I would like to ask you to please look at for me. This one is labeled Taiwan. It is a very dark red wood, perhaps mahogany? It is 1.5″ thick in parts, and is fairly heavy, almost 2 lbs. An interesting feature is that there are 5 holes around the underside of its mouth. There are bristles that have been cut protruding from these holes, which makes me think it must have had whiskers at one time, which someone removed. It measures just about 10″ across, and 9″ in height. Do you have a any ideas about this one’s purpose or origins? It appears…

  • East Asia

    Beautiful Khon mask from Thailand

    Q:  This is one I researched and found good info on. It was picked up in Thailand, and is a Khon mask, worn by actors in the traditional Ramakien dramas. This particular mask is Thotsaken, who is the chief demon in their Hindu based drama. It is actually three pieces, the first main part that goes over the actor’s head is Thotsaken, the middle piece shows multiple faces and connects to the pleasant looking face on the third top piece, which is supposed to be an angel or female heavenly being. This mask has obviously been used, and it was  made with great care and painstaking attention to detail. I…

  • East Asia

    Chinese dragon mask

    On the biggest holiday of the year in the most populous country in the world, various masks are worn during week-long celebrations to ring in the new year. Made from materials including stones, metal and leather, these colorful masks are designed to display the moods and emotions associated with the festival. The masks represent the deities, spirits and fabled animals that Chinese New Year mythology originated from. This one is the famous dragon of the New Year’s parade. Because of the huge Chinese diaspora you can see them in many countries around the world. In yesterday’s post there are some masks that are only seen in a few, small countries…

  • East Asia

    Big bird from Borneo

    This is a rough but colorful hudoq mask. In the Dayak language hudoq means hornbill bird. These famous masks are worn during agricultural ceremonies and to welcome important guests. Like so many ethnographic artifacts from around the world, the design is highly abstracted art that can only be understood by members of the culture. The colors are always a strong red, white and black. Collectors love to display them and they are always in demand.  1364

  • East Asia,  Protection

    Samurai metal face mask

    Solid metal masks were used by the samurais to protect their face in combat. Along with a large helmet and armor over all of his body, the warrior was well protected. A colorful and rather frightening appearance was also important. The superb set of full-body armor from the 18th century is the second photo. Its facial armor is not the same as the close-up. I will categories this mask in both the East Asia and Protection categories. Beautiful work! Japanese folk art, from masks to clay pots, has always been the best in the world… in my humble opinion.

  • East Asia

    Korean masks

    In the Republic of Korea, you can watch a traditional masked dance called Cheoyongmu, which features a cast of characters who each wear a different type of mask. The masks come with black cloth attached to the sides of the mask designed to cover the back of the head and also to simulate black hair. They are used for dances, and are sold to collectors and tourists. There are two ways to categorize masks: religious masks and artistic masks. Religious masks were often used to ward off evil spirits and the artistic masks are mostly used in dances and theater shows. Masks which are use for dance in Korea come…

  • East Asia

    Old khon mask

    Q:  I’ve just found this mask. It looks like a khon mask but from where? Burma or India? Have you some idea about this?  Eric, 1314 A:  I’ve never seen a kohn mask from either Burma or India, so I assume it is an old example from Thailand. Sometimes they are danced, but they are also displayed in holy places. Life sized, it is made from layers of papier-mache and plaster.  Gold leaf and colored glass and jewels are applied along with some paint. Because of its age I think you should do more research. This might be of interest to serious collectors.  A

  • East Asia

    Japanese mask festival

    The little Goryo Shrine in Kamakura puts on a small but unique festival where the participants wear masks which are over two centuries old. The festival is held in honor of the enshrined spirit of Kamakura Kagemasa, a famed samurai warrior of the 11th Century popularly known as Gongoro. You will love this video on YouTube. Many different kinds of masks are paraded. I think the one here is an old mask called Menkake Gyoretsu. Enjoy.

  • East Asia

    Japanese Kyogen mask

    Here’s a Japanese carved wood mask that comes from the Asian Ethnographic Collection at the American Museum of Natural History. I especially like it because the design is strong while the colors are weak. Kyogen is the comic interlude between the serious dramas of Noh theater. Kyogen characters are homespun and funny. Japanese people love to display these masks in their homes and give them as gifts. This one is old and belongs in a museum.

  • East Asia

    Popular Japanese mask

    Q:  I just purchased a gorgeous Noh theater mask of what I assume to be a Hannya character. I was hoping I could get more information, an appraisal, etc. Give me a response and I’ll send you guys some photos.  Cameron, 1290 A:  I must charge for appraisals, however I usually include a letter grade that suggests value… and it is free. Your brand new Noh mask may not be the famous she devil. I’ve also posted another mask that looks more like her. There are several other characters that resemble Hannya. I couldn’t find one with black skin and white hair in my book. You could do a Google…