• Misc

    The Darth Vader mask for Halloween

    We’re getting close to Halloween. It’s an important holiday in the USA– relying heavily on masquerade, and second only to Christmas in its popularity. My favorite Halloween mask is the Darth Vader helmet. You could call it a futuristic version of Samurai armor. Rather than talk about Star Wars or construction details, I will point out that this is also a great work of art. To use a term most of our viewers are familiar with, it could become an important ethnographic artifact.  Bob, 1222 Save Save Save

  • Misc

    The famous Guy Fawkes mask

    The Guy Fawkes mask is a stylised depiction of Guy Fawkes, the best-known member of the Gunpowder Plot. The plot was an attempt to blow up the House of Lords in London on 5 November 1605, in order to restore a Catholic head of state. The use of a mask on an effigy has long roots as part of Guy Fawkes Night celebrations. A stylised portrayal of a face with an oversized smile and red cheeks, a wide moustache upturned at both ends, and a thin vertical pointed beard, designed by illustrator David Lloyd, came to represent broader protest after it was used as a major plot element in V…

  • Misc

    Deformity masks in other cultures

    Q:  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 A:  This first one is from the Ibibio people of Nigeria. It measures 7 3/4″ high. The small face with high raised forehead above tiny eyes, carved with no nose or upper lip and with teeth showing in the open face depicts either syphilitic yaws or a severe cleft palate. It comes from the Cobbs Auctioneers. The second one is a Mbangu from the Pende of the DRC. 12″ high. It represents a hunter who has…

  • Misc

    Horse bog shoe

    It’s not a mask, but it looks like one. For years there have always been a few people who like to collect surprise art objects for their walls. I love this guy and will categorize him under “Misc.” Part of the fun is trying to guess what it really is. Here’s the story. In earlier times horses were employed to work in bogs and marshes where there was a danger of the horse sinking and getting stuck. Bog shoes of cut wood were strapped onto the horse’s hooves to allow the horse to stay above the bog. Think of how a snow shoe works. The bog shoe is big and…

  • Europe,  Misc

    Mardi Gras goes back to 1699.

    A French-Canadian explorer first brought the carnival customs, then Creole society began masking and dancing at private balls while revelers in disguise roamed the streets of New Orleans. Mardi Gras is also celebrated in many of the Cajun communities scattered throughout much of Louisiana, USA. These bizarre masks made out of window screen and other cheap materials are used by the locals even in the small villages close to the swamps. The masks and costumes are pure American folk art. Wild and crazy antics, much different than what happens at the parade in New Orleans, are practiced on this famous holiday by the rural Cajuns. Mardi Gras has some other…

  • Misc

    Anne Frank portrait mask

    Q:  I have this thank you note I keep forgetting to send to you for the wonderful inclusion of my work in your awesome book. Not only that but this book is a major source for me as reference and inspiration. Anyways I also thought I would keep you up to date with new work I’ve made. This one  is a gold leafed Mache of Anne Frank.  Patrick, 1084 A:  Patrick Risse does many other types of contemporary art masks in addition to famous portraits. They are always one of a kind and very well made, but you don’t see them often on this website. I call them art masks.…

  • Misc

    Masks by James Ensor

    Although James Ensor (1860-1949) is most well known for his paintings which have influenced both expressionism and surrealism, many of these paintings contain images of masks. Heidi Leitzke, Lancaster’s Public Arts Manager, recently told me this. You can find some beautiful papier mache masks that were made by him. These two are from Google Images. It’s possible that these were modeled after items in the curiosity shop Ensor’s family ran, right beneath his studio. I would also suggest that you read “Chapter 8–Modern America” of Masks of the World by Robert Ibold. Though 74 different masks are pictured and discussed in this chapter, there is one that seems similar to…

  • Misc

    World’s oldest masks displayed

    A collection of the world’s oldest masks, dating back to the dawn of civilization, have gone on display at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. The 9,000-year-old stone masks are thought to have been made to resemble the spirits of dead ancestors. They have round holes for eyes, tiny noses and prominent displays of teeth. Experts say they were made in the hills and deserts near Jerusalem and offer a rare glimpse of some of civilization’s first communal rituals. They are thought to have made at a critical turning point that saw the birth of agriculture and the abandonment of the hunter-gatherer lifestyle. James Snyder, director of the Israel Museum, said…

  • Misc

    Modern wall art

    Q:  I make masks and was wondering if you had some suggestions as to how my work could be exhibited and who might be the best people to contact. Here is a link to my website:  I would be happy to send a book of my latest work if you tell me a mailing address.  Alexander, 1015 A:  Though most of our time is spent dealing with ethnographic masks, we are also interested in protective, movie, Halloween, fantasy and fetish masks. This great looking piece falls into another category known as fine art, specifically, modern metal sculpture. I hope you enjoy it.  A http://alexpbard.com/masks/        (email)  abard34@yahoo.com

  • India & Himalayas,  Misc

    Yakut iron mask

    Q:  This mask was labelled as a Shaman’s mask from the Yakut people of Siberia. Do you have similar masks in your collection?   Jeff, 950 A:  I’ve never seen one in my 35 years of collecting. Now, after doing some research, I still know very little about them. The Yakut are living in Northern Siberia, just west of the Asiatic Eskimos. In the southern parts of their small country they raise horses and cattle. In addition, they produce there own iron ore and are excellent blacksmiths. Thus the iron mask. I’m posting another iron mask that is maybe from somewhere else. I’ve seen a number of iron masks from Mali…