• India & Himalayas

    Mystery mask. From India?

    Q: I came across an unusual mask described as 19th Century Tibetan Polychrome Wooden and Cloth Wrapped Mask. Not sure of its origin and background. My first criteria is masks from places I visited in order to “feel” the circumstances to which they are attached, and then the closest possible to its use (that means used masks or made by local artisans). I have 62 masks from 14 countries of the 48 that I have visited, even though some of them do not have mask traditions. Any info that you can provide? Joao, 1611 A: I suspect this mask is from somewhere in the huge country of India or perhaps…

  • India & Himalayas

    Old and used mask from India

    On the 14th of this month I posted blog #1603 which was a mystery mask from India. Aaron Fellmeth, a famous authority on masks, was kind enough to comment. He named several parts of India where masks are commonly used, but didn’t recognize this particular mask and thought it probably was decorative art for tourists. None the less, what he said will help direct collectors to areas rich in authentic masks. However, with 1.3 billion people, India has 22 separate ethnic groups speaking languages other than Hindi, and all of these people are displaying varied cultures, religions, and related artifacts. I think all of these separate groups probably practice masquerade.…

  • India & Himalayas

    Old mask purchased in Kerala, India

    Q: I was wondering if anyone could help with this mask from India. Any insights would be appreciated. It was bought in Kochi (Kerala) in 2008 from one of the main antiques stores in the old town, but sadly not much more information survived when it was passed on to me. The mask still carries faded but quite vivid yellow on most parts of the face and purple on the eyelids and headband. There is an indentation from the headgear down all around the face, as well as three dotted indentations above the lips. Behind the ears are two holes, presumably for hanging the mask. The back has two written…

  • India & Himalayas

    Himalayan mask with open eyes and nose

    Q: Today I present to you my new buddy! I took it on Catawiki because I liked his nose (or rather his lack of it) not believing that he was a master chef. When I took it in my hands I realized it was a skull and I thought due to the three skulls on the head and the two side fans, it could be a Citipati. The smell is old wood and I love it. it looks like a picture 149 on page 40 of your book even if the definition of ebook does not allow me to investigate. It’s about 17 inches long.It looks old and used. The…

  • India & Himalayas

    Pretty Raksha devil from Sri Lanka

    Q: I want you to see my last purchase which, unbelievable but true, also pleases my husband. It is a mask from Sri Lanka and looks rather old judging from the wood (not old due to the paint). I bought it at an online auction. Could you please tell me more about it? Monica, 1588 A: I’m pleased to hear that your husband liked this Raksha mask. (My wife was rarely pleased with my purchases.) It is especially handsome because the composition and coloration is so professional. Perhaps this carver is an art school graduate. However, it won’t impress any serious collector of Sri Lankan masks. That’s because it is…

  • India & Himalayas

    More masks from India

    A month ago I wrote how important Indian masks could be to collectors around the world. If there were some good books or websites we might begin to see them on the market. These masks can come from the traditional theater dances and parades of cities, or from the ceremonies of many different ethnic groups in villages around the country. Today there are over 1,349,000 people living in India. That is more than all of Africa– from Morocco to Madagascar. These four masks from different parts of India are new to me. I can’t tell you the names, purpose or origin of them. Wouldn’t be nice if a visitor would…

  • India & Himalayas

    Fake Nepal Ganesh mask

    Q: Hi, after much study I just bought a nice Nepal Ganesh Mask. Can you help me figure out if it is “real” or one made for the tourist trade? It is so border line, either an antiqued great mock up or maybe real. I’m really excited to share this! Larry, 1552 A: Sorry, Larry, but this is an example of a reproduction that was made for the tourist trade and export. I thought some of our less experienced visitors could learn something about recognizing these fakes. Almost all tourist masks are antiqued to make them look old and used. Yours is a good example of the popular tinted-varnish technique.…

  • India & Himalayas

    New Kathmandu tourist mask

    Q: I received this Himalayan region mask just ten days ago on an ebay auction for $50. It is about 12 inches high and has numerous small holes for hair, some of which is left. I hope that it interest you. Steve, 1534 A: I’ve seen a few of these lately. They are probably from Nepal or NW China. I like the way they look, but I can’t tell you anything more about them. C

  • India & Himalayas

    Fake shaman’s mask from Nepal

    Q: Is this mask from Nepal or possibly PNW? Jim, 1529 A: Lately I’ve done some blogs on the authenticity of ethnographic masks. It has been an issue with African tribal art for well over 100 years. By now the problem has spread to all parts of the world that welcome tourists looking for souvenirs. Nepal is no exception. What you see here looks like a shaman’s mask from the Middle Hills region of the Himalayans that even has a red wax seal of the Nepalese customs service on the back. Then please go to our records and look at “Masks of the Himalayas” dated March 16, 2018, and “Himalayan…

  • India & Himalayas

    Chhau mask from Purulia, India

    The Chhau dance is a semi classical Indian dance with martial, tribal and folk traditions, with origins in the Purulia district in West Bengal. The dance ranges from celebrating martial arts, acrobatics and athletics performed in festive themes of a folk dance, to a structured dance with religious themes. The stories enacted by Chhau dancers include those from the Hindu epics such as the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. Purulia Chhau Dance is listed on UNESCO‚Äôs world heritage list of dances. Traditionally, the chhau dance held in the mid march when one agricultural circle end and a new circle begins. Purulia chhau dancer were the earthy and theatrical mask which represent…