• Misc

    Tourist masks

    Q: I just received this mask as a gift. I was told it came from a collector in Canada, but it looks African to me. Rick, 1650 A: Many of the people who write to the Mask Man have been given a mask, found one, or bought an “old one” cheap. They are usually hoping it will be worth something. I have to disappoint them, hopefully, in a nice way. It would be better the next time if they bought tribal art for beauty rather than value. Other visitors to MasksoftheWorld are collectors and would probably not be interested in today’s blog. Rick has a mask that doesn’t resemble the…

  • Misc

    Rare animal mask from Panama

    Q: Would you know more about this straw mask. It reminds me of an African dog mask. Very comfortable to wear. Not sure if it represents a zebra or a monkey. Looking forward to your answer. Paule, 1649 A: I would say this mask was made by Indians from the forests of Panama, possibly the Embera or the Wounaan people. Both tribes often weave animal masks out of the same natural materials they use for baskets. I wish I could tell you what kind of animal it is. Maybe it is some kind of monkey. I hope you keep this rare mask and do some serious research. B+

  • Misc

    MASK by Chris Ranier

    I saw some of the beautiful pictures in this new book. Here is one of a Buddhist deer masks from the Mustang Region of Nepal. Sorry, my scan doesn’t do it justice. Check out more of them on the internet and see what you think. Here is what Amazon had to say about the book… MASK presents a striking collection of rare masks steeped in ancient tradition, captured through the lens of one of the world’s most celebrated documentary photographers. Chris Rainier has documented indigenous and endangered cultures worldwide. What began as a focus on the masks of New Guinea—where modernity threatened to erase ancient rituals and cultures—became an expansive…

  • Misc

    Deer Skull Masks Made 11,000 Years Ago

    Over 11,000 years ago, people in Star Carr were carving eyeholes into the crania of dead deer, presumably using the stone tools found at the northern Yorkshire site. As of Thursday, three of the 33 evocative headdresses made by the Mesolithic-era hunter-gatherers out of deer skulls, and other miraculously preserved artifacts, are on display at Cambridge University’s Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. Ordinarily, all that latter-day archaeologists find from the distant past are stone and pottery artifacts that don’t suffer decay. There are exceptions, such as peat bogs in which the oxygen-breathing bacteria of rot cannot live. In Yorkshire, northern England, the waterlogged ground at Star Carr almost miraculously preserved…

  • Indonesia,  Misc

    Another mask I need help with

    Q: I got this at an antique shop a few days back. At first I thought he was just an old souvenir tchotchke because there aren’t any holes in the side to keep this mask on someone’s head, instead there are four punctures in the back that look like they are for mounting. There is a dark, smooth looking stain in the wood just above the nostrils in back. The stain appears right where a person’s breath would hit if they actually wore this mask. Maybe someone wore it for something? Conceivably those four parallel punctures could have been for a head strap… Also, the mask was repaired at one…

  • Misc

    Muslim masks

    I’m starting with a Marka mask from Mali, a country that is almost entirely Muslim. The second photo is a niqab, something you would expect to see in a Muslim country. Many African countries have a rich tradition of crafted masks. During the seventh century and the beginning of Islam, Muslims migrated to North Africa. They also pushed into territories further south that eventually became the Republic of Sudan, Chad, Niger, Mali, and several others. We know that the Islamic religion has always discouraged masquerade. But many of these African cultures had ancient artistic traditions in mask-making for indigenous celebrations. They made masks that represented spirits and gods. In their…

  • Misc

    The masks of India

    For years I have admired the hundreds of different masks that are used in that big country with so many cultures and traditions. I even put an Indian mask of the cover of our book, Masks of the World. Though India is the second largest country in the world, I have never been able to find a book about Indian masks. The first photo shown here is from the Monpa culture in Arunachal Pradesh. The second is a carved and painted sacred cow from New Delhi, and the third is a Chhau mask from Purulia (also shown on the cover of our book). The largest country in the world is…

  • Indonesia,  Misc

    Topeng prime minister from Bali

    Q: I would like to have your opinion about this wayang topeng mask. Do you think it is original (made to be worn)? Teeth are made of mother of pearl and wood is soft. Thank you, Monica 1554 A: There are several versions of Prime Ministers in the Topeng dance dramas that are performed in Bali. Patih Manis and Patih Keras come to mind, but there are others. Judy Slattum in her well-illustrated book, Masks of Bali, says these characters exhibit cleverness, pride, ambition, and sometimes foolishness. Your carving seems to me to be old, used and in good condition. As usual, you’ve made a good acquisition. A-

  • Misc

    Decorative art– not masks

    Q: I get questions (with three attached scans) almost every day. Most of the time these “mystery masks” are quickly made carvings for the tourist trade that have little artistic value and no ethnographic significance. Often they were from thrift shops. These three are of some value. A: The first one is from someplace in China where they have a group of master carvers who have been making these mask-like sculptures for many years. They are always highly detailed and sometimes have glass eyes. Second is a heavy ceramic wall-hanging from Mexico which resembles a pre-Columbian god. I think it is a handsome piece of decorative art. Unfortunately, the sellers…

  • Misc

    Feathered carnival mask

    Q: My grandmother just passed away and I inherited a framed mask I have always loved. I believe it is from an opera from what I remember her telling me. It was framed by her so there is no way for me to get into it’s case. It is a very large mask. The case is probably 2 feet by 3 feet wide. The mask is made of various sized feathers. I have no interest in selling it but if you could provide any information on it I would greatly appreciate it! Emily, 1521 A: There are some operas that have an act with a ballroom scene. Most masks like…