• India & Himalayas,  Misc

    Sri Lankan Maha Kola mask

    Q: This Sri Lanka “mask” that, as I told you previously, is one of my favorites. At first, thinking it was a tourist item and I didn’t want to post it here. But after some internet research I decided to try as well because I never find another piece so colorful and careful made. I guess it could be vintage or made by an artist. Thank you again for your interest. 30 cm high and half-soft wood. She’s missing a piece on her hands. Monica, 1513 A: Sorry to take so long to post this. We seem to have corrected our computer problems. I’m glad you sent this. Even though…

  • Misc

    Mardi Gras in Louisiana

    Three days ago I wrote about the Mummers parade in Philadelphia. The other famous US masquerade spreads can be found in many parts of Louisiana. The big parade in New Orleans is a famous tourist event. The masks and costumes look a lot like the carnival in Venice. However, there are many smaller parades in the rural areas that are unique. Michael Welsh writes in Acadiana: “Wherever Mardi Gras is celebrated, the mask is key. Behind the best masks, they can’t tell whether you are laughing or crying. They can’t tell how absolutely drunk you are. The mask helps erase consequence. “Riders want folks to say, ‘Well, I didn’t see…

  • Misc

    Mummers Parade in Philadelphia

    Though I live close to Philly, I’ve never gone to this important masquerade. The masks and costumes are something everyone should experience. Better yet, the participants and audience (which includes tourists) are having a great time together. A lot of beer is consumed. New friends are made. Great fun! The Mummers Parade is held each New Year’s Day in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It is believed to be the oldest folk festival in the United States. Local clubs (usually called “New Years Associations”) compete in one of four categories (comics, fancies, string bands, and fancy brigades). They prepare elaborate costumes, performance routines, and moveable scenery, which take months to complete. This is…

  • Misc

    1500 photos & descriptions of masks

    The “Ask the Mask Man” blog has reached 1500. In addition to the website, there are almost 1000 in our book, Masks of the World. Combined, this is by far the largest reference for masks anywhere! Thank you for your participation.  Bob & Troy

  • Misc

    Mexican decorative masks, collectible or not?

    Q:   I have a mask bought in Mexico (Playa del Carmen) from a collector for ~$60 CAD. The mask is made of wood and has goat horns. The seller claimed it was used by a dancer but I cannot remember where. It has holes on the back that appear to be for wearing. I am wondering what you think of this mask, and I am unsure where it would be from. If you have anything else to say about this mask I’d be happy to hear it, its my first and only mask in my collection so far.  Trevor, 1492 A:  Your mask is called a decorative. It is…

  • Misc

    Tribal deformity and sickness masks

    Back on July 22, 2017 I received the following email. “As you know, collectors occasionally run into deformity and disease masks. I’d like to hear more about them.  I’d especially be indebted if you started a blog thread on the topic.”  Nate, 1190 The first mask is a Mbangu from the Pende people of the DRC in central Africa.  It represents a hunter who has suffered a stroke from the curse of a local sorcerer. The second is from Sri Lanka and would be used by a village shaman to cure a patient. The third mask shows a poor man with a very large goiter. From Baja Verapaz, Guatemala, it…

  • Misc

    Korean traditional character mask

    Q:  The mask is roughly 28 by 20 cm. It is wooden and has a black cloth covering and ties at the back. I think it is of Korean origin, but unsure if it’s an  artistic/religious mask or if it depicts a particular character.   Maddie,  1477 A:  Sorry to take so long. I’ve had some problems that took a week to fix. Your red mask is one of the characters in the Yangju Pyeolsandae Nori, the most popular folk dance in all of Korea. There are over 20 other actors in the dance. Many Korean masks are designated as national cultural properties. Yours is no exception and would have been…

  • Misc

    Should you buy this mask?

    This is called an Agbogho mmuuo from the Ashanti people of  Ghana, West Africa. Sometimes the sellers of these round carvings will tell you more about their derivation, which goes like this…  “Translating into the Queen of women, this mask represents a wealthy woman of high status.  She personifies strength, beauty, and pride.  It is typically worn during performances at funerals and other ceremonies.  Seeking to illustrate maiden spirits, men dress up in these masks and parade as adolescent girls to exaggerate their features.  Shows including the mimickers are also joined by musicians who chat ‘Mmanwu si n’igwe’ – meaning the masked spirit from the sky and ‘Udemu na lenu’ –…

  • Misc

    We-Guere Mask from Africa

    Guere Mask from the Ivory Coast can be very frighting. They are worn to terrify their enemy when at war. The Guere share many aspects of culture with the neighboring Dan tribe. They created masks that were used during festivities, funerals, rituals, wars, and that look rather scary and monstrous. The art of Guere people is stylistically connected to the Dan and both groups are often collectively referred to as We, meaning “men who easily forgive.” Like the Dan, the We use a wide variety of masquerades, which hold important regulatory position within their small, egalitarian communities. Masks are owned by families and used by individual lineage members in contexts…

  • East Asia,  Misc

    Japan uses the most masks

    The picture shows a finely made, possibly very old, Japanese character mask. It could be Waka Otoko or Hatachi Amari from the Noh theater, or even a older Bugaku masks. I just don’t know. There so many masks, some of which go way back in history. There are more old masks in Japanese collections than anywhere. But there’s more. The Japanese use masks a lot. Usage includes Noh theater, village plays, temple performances, parades, celebrations, export, souvenirs for tourists, gifts, home decoration and sword fighting. No wonder collecting Japanese masks is so popular. On pages 54-56 of Masks of the World by Ibold and Yohn there are 24 shown and…