• Guatemala,  Mexico

    Pre-Columbian Indian mask

    Q: Does this mask look like a repro or a legitimate Mexican pre-Columbian piece. It is 3” x 5”. Is is jade adhered to pottery on a wooden base. Paula, 1739 A: It’s a beautiful piece that shows you what an Mezcala, Olmec or Mayan masks could look like before the Spanish invaded the new world. Otherwise, I can’t help much because I never got around to learning about early MesoAmerican masks. The big question is whether it is authentic or a recent reproduction. Please don’t sell it until you know for sure. There are labs that can tell you the age of the mask.

  • Mexico

    Huichol mask from Mexico

    From Austria to the Amazon, masks bring out the impulses of creative art. In my favorite foreign country, Mexico, there is an indigenous group living in the remote states of Jalisco, Durango, Zacatecas and Nayarit… called the Huichol. They have a long history of beading, making the beads from clay, shells, corals, seeds and more. In the middle of the 20th century they started to make wood masks covered in small, brightly colored commercial beads fastened with wax and resin. While the materials have changed from natural to commercial, the designs have changed a little, and many retain their religious and symbolic significance. Many outsiders experience Huichol art as tourists…

  • Mexico

    Mexican tin mask for tourist

    Q: I used to create various tribal masks, sometimes with metal and allied items. Please look at this sample for your reference. Sanjay, 1714 A: This tin mask is well made and represents a high-ranking Aztec. These masks have been made for visitors to Mexico for years. As you can see, they are hard to resist. Mexican maskmakers sell thousands every year, most of which are quite different from each other. I wonder if Sanjay can reproduce a metal Bolivian mask. They would be much more difficult. A beautiful example is shown in the second photograph. Masks of this kind were made for the Diablado (Dance of the Devils) that…

  • Mexico

    Authentic Mexican devil mask

    Q: I’m not sure what we are going to do with the collection yet. We are trying to get them identified and appraised. I’ll look to see if there’s any paperwork on any of them. Jodie, 1703 A: A red devil with horns is one of the most common characters in masquerades all over Mexico. Though quickly made by a carver with limited training, this mask has lots of personality. It has also been danced a number of times in Zampango, Guerrero, and is now about 70 years old. Usage in culture, rather than for sale to tourists and artificially aged to increase value, this mask is more desirable to…

  • Mexico

    Decorative Day-of-the-Dead mask

    If this mask was actually used on an offering table, in a dance or ceremony, it would be considered authentic. This is often the the case with Mexican masks because the village carvers usually sell their extra masks to tourist and shop keepers. Some of you know I have long been a big fan of Mexican masks. Whether the carver is a well-trained professional or a part-timer in a country village, they like to express themselves. This guy wants to have a little fun with his quickly carved skull. The next one he makes may be quite different. But he always is expressing his feelings. Cultural traditions are often followed,…

  • Mexico

    Bearded white man mask

    Q: I AM VERY INTRIGUED WITH THIS MASK, ESTRUSC?, AFRICAN MASK REPRESENTED A WHITE MAN, LONG NOSE. We bought it at an art estate sale. Paintings were what we were looking for, a storage with good paintings and inside we found this mask as well. The former owner was a famous Cuban artist but not a mask collector. Maybe some present from friend or something to keep as decorative art. About price, I can’t say. Juan, 1699 A: I think it is probably from someplace in Mexico or Guatemala. Your idea that it might be an African tribal mask portraying a white man is also worth considering. Appearance of the…

  • Mexico

    Tourist mask from Guerrero

    Q: I found this mask and thought it was cool. Would love to learn more about it and its meaning. I do know it was made in Mexico. Any information would be appreciated. Chrystle, 1688 A: Tons of these cute masks with animals on their face are sold to tourists in Chilapa, Guerrero. They are also available in the gift shops and markets throughout the rest of the country. Most often the animal is a bat placed over the nose with its wings spread out. Many years ago these crazy looking masks were actually worn by villagers in the Danza de los Murcielagos. I saw one of those old bat…

  • Mexico

    Mexican black Devil mask

    Q: Here’s another interesting Mexican devil mask to share with your followers. I purchased it online in 2018 for approx $60. Unfortunately the seller could offer very little detail regarding which state in Mexico it was from. The wooden portion of the mask is approx 8″x 5″ with some type of animal skin (goat?) attached around the perimeter. It also has what appear to be goat fur mustache and eyebrows. The teeth and fangs are applied wood. He is a very menacing, yet dapper looking fellow. Dan, 1683 A: Dan is a very experienced collector, but even the smartest guys can occasionally be stumped. All I can do is confirm…

  • Mexico

    Useful tourist mask

    Q: I purchased this helmet in 1978 from El Changarro in Nogales, Mexico for $100. El Changarro is no longer an antiques and accessories store in Nogales, MX. As you can see, I had it made into a side table. Nancy, 1665 A: A 20-inch diameter, round glass top would look perfect on this base. Thanks for sharing your idea with us. You paid a bit too much for this Guerrero-made helmet mask back in 1978, but now you have a piece of furniture that is very cool. An interior decorator would love to buy one for $250 and charge the client a lot more! If one of our viewers…

  • Mexico,  South America

    Pre-Columbian masks & statues

    Q: My fiance just found in his 24 yr old Arizona storage unit what he termed a pre-Columbian figurine that shows the back was broken off some other clay object. He said “it’s the real deal”. It is 3-inches tall. Wondered if I send you pix if you could shed some more light on the authenticity and possible age? Pam, 1642 A: Small fired-clay masks and other sculptural fragments have been turning up at various parts of Meso-America for 100s of years. Often attractive, they can also be of archaeological interest. Eventually some of the skillful locals found they could easily replicate these artifacts and sell them to the rich…