• Oceania

    Old Melanesian masks

    The first mask is from Northern New Ireland, Papua New Guinea; the second is a Tago mask from Tami Island, PNG; and the third comes from Kamge village in the East Sepik Province of PNG. These are 3 of 17 outstanding masks that represent different cultural groups occupying the large part of the South Pacific called Melanesia. They are all from all from the Australia Museum listed below. You will surely recognize some of them in other famous museums and books. After West Africa, Melanesia has the richest assortment of highly artistic masks in the world. During the 19th century many great European artists were profoundly influenced by the folk…

  • Oceania

    Cool tourist mask from PNG

    Q: You have seen this helmet mask back in 2010. I wonder if you have any further information on it since then. I bought it from a consignment shop on lay away…college student…little money. Mickey, 1678 A: I can’t remember that far back, but today I think your mask is an impressive carving from the Sepik River area of New Guinea. It is too creative to be considered a reproduction, and is tourist art at its best. Let’s hope there are some collectors and curators of Melanesian artifacts who would love a modern version of PNG traditional art. B

  • Oceania

    25-in Ramu mask from PNG

    Q: Bought on ebay as Ramu ancestral mask for 225USD. It could be also from the Lower/Middle Sepik River area of Papua New Guinea. Seller claimed that it was collected in the 1970s. Wood, natural fibres, very worn off cassowary feathers and a couple of tips from what it appears to be bore tasks used as a decoration of the cheeks. 64 cm tall. Vesselin, 1618 A: I think it looks good and may be authentic. Check it carefully to see if carved with natural tools or steel. There were still a few areas in PNG not visited by Westerners in the 1970’s. Or it could be an excellent reproduction.…

  • Oceania

    Micronesian mask from Mortlock Islands

    What you see here is an authentic mask from the Mortlock Islands, Micronesia, and it just fetched $2000 at auction. Micronesia is a large area of the world that is composed of thousands of small islands in the western Pacific Ocean. It has a closely shared cultural history with two other island regions: Polynesia to the east and Melanesia to the south. However, the Mortlock Islands are the only place were masquerade is performed in the region and all of their masks resemble this one. People like me, who collect masks from all over the world, feel it is important to have one of these in our collection because no…

  • Oceania

    Is this PNG mask really old?

    Q: Described as a late 19th to early 20th century gable mask from Papua New Guinea. What are your thoughts on quality/value/authenticity? Acquired from Artemis Gallery (ex-Adeon Gallery). Jon, 1597 A: You asked about quality, value and authenticity. The quality, (if that means appearance), is very good in my personal opinion. The value would depend on whether it was carved with natural tools or steel tools. It is very difficult for me to answer this when I can only look at 72dpi scans. Notice that the rear of this very traditional Sepik River area mask is flat. That is because many of the various ethnic groups also use masks to…

  • Oceania

    Ask the Mask Man or professional appraisal

    Q: Got this from a dealer in Port Moresby. I would like to know its authenticity, value and where/tribe it came from. Old or new? After my answer, John wrote… I am interested in an appraisal, and information on where the mask is from (in Papua New Guinea) whether it is an authentic mask that was used in ceremonies, and whether it is particularly valuable. John, 1575 A: The answers that are posted on this site usually show 3 good photographs of the mystery mask, some interesting background info, and an A, B, C, D evaluation with can roughly suggest its value. An appraisal describes the mask, talks about marketing…

  • Indonesia,  Oceania

    Dayak hudoq mask

    From the Dayak people of the Kalimantan portion of Borneo, the mask is a classical style hudoq depicting a mythical boar, bird and dragon; the face painted in red, white and black, with attached ears, the lobes with remains of fiber cord that once held pendant ear decorations. It is 25 inches high and has never been used. It came from the Cobbs Auctioneers, a company that often comes up with high-quality masks that are not terribly expensive. Can someone explain why a mask of this quality would be antiqued on the front and not the rear?

  • Oceania

    Timorese mask

    I’m posting this because I like it so much. Traditional masks that rely mostly  on carving can result in very fine sculptures. There are examples of this in Africa and indigenous cultures around the world, but they are rare compared to masks with color or adornments. Timor is an island in the South Pacific under Sulawesi and the Moluccas. Half of the island is the eastern end of Indonesia. Masks and other tribal arts are still being made there. This one would be old and used for celebrating an ancestor or communicating with spirits. Full disclosure– I am an artist, not an anthropologist.

  • Oceania

    New Guinea wood carving

    Q:  I recently acquired a PNG yam ceremony carving from the Netherlander and remembered that you had a yam god mask posted on your website. Maybe you are not interested in carvings but I figure I will share them with you and as always, I’m very interested in hearing your opinions. Photos are stock, carvings are currently in transit.  David, 1376 A:  Your carving is certainly from Papua New Guinea and a very handsome piece of folk art. I’ve never seen a yam mask this long and narrow. How tall is it? What is that little knob for on the bottom? Perhaps you can find someone who specializes in PNG or oceanic…