• 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…

  • Misc,  Native America

    Big NWC Indian mask

    Q:  The mask is about 16 inches tall and about 12 inches wide. I believe it was acquired in the Pacific Northwest by my grandfather 40-or-so-years ago. I’m not sure what he paid for it but I believe it was an original. It was recently bequeathed to me along with 10 other masks from around the world. Kristian, 1455 A: Your mask is original in that it was carved by hand in the Pacific Northwest. I wish I knew what spirit or creature this big mask represent, and what specific culture it comes from. It was made by a lesser carver for sale to tourists. Perhaps someone will send in a…

  • Misc

    Siberian shaman’s metal masks

    This is a flat piece of metal pounded into an old man’s face. Many holes dot the entire edge of the mask which could have been connected to some kind of decoration. It was found in the early 20th century in Evenk, a village of the transbaikal region of  Siberia. The indigenous people living there are similar to Native Alaskans. It would have been used by a local shaman in ceremonies to cure illness, protect against danger and encouraging prosperity. 10 inches high. Traditionally, the term shamanism can be defined as a single system which includes a special outlook. It is aimed at the direct perception of the world, understanding…

  • Misc

    Cajun Marti Grass mask

    Cajuns live in the largely self-contained communities in the bayou areas in southern Louisiana. They are descendants of French Canadians, who speak French. Unlike the people of New Orleans, their celebration of the Lenten Marti Gras is done in home-made masks and costumes that resemble nothing else I’ve ever seen. They don’t look like the masks and costumes used in New Orleans. Romanian masks (below) come the closest. With the exception of Halloween, masquerade is not used in most modern American celebrations.

  • Misc

    Another mask for Muslim women

    A comment on another style I have not seen before from one of our viewers: “Just recently I was in the Mask Museum in Belgium and they considered puppets a kind of masks. I was surprised but got convinced by their definition, so now I agree on considering the Burka a kind of mask too. There are other types of hijabs that more resemble masks, like the Battoula in some Arab states: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battoulah.”  Rey

  • Africa,  Misc

    Ancient Egyptian wood mask

    Probably older than 1000 BC, this beautifully carved face mask comes from the inner coffin of a large ancient Egyptian sarcophagus. It would have been painted over with a layer of gesso and linen. All of this is long gone because of poor conditions in the tomb where it was buried. Very nicely mounted and photographed. Sometimes great aging can be very appealing. What I don’t like to see is masks that have been artificially aged to fool the collecting market.  1365

  • Misc

    Real masks vs. decorative carvings

    Q: I received this mask from a friend who found it, essentially in the garbage, while doing demolition work after a large flood. It is approximately 30″ x 12″ at the widest part. I have a general interest in artifacts from different parts of the world, particularly West Africa and Latin America (Amazonia in particular). Mike, 1358 A:  Quite a few decorative carvings come to me for identification each month. Yours is one of the more attractive ones, so I decided to make an exception and post a non-mask. People with little knowledge of tribal art enjoy them, but our viewers are collectors who avoid tourist souvenirs in favor of…

  • Misc

    Prehistoric clay masks

    The first is a Domen period mask from Nagano, Japan. The smaller photo shows a prehistoric clay mask dug up in Turkey. There is also a stone mask from the Middle East shown on page 203 of our book, Masks of the World, that is thought to be over 9000 years old. The tradition of masquerade goes far back in the history of mankind.