• Oceania

    Sepic River area mask

    Q:  (I can only find the photos of this mask from Martha, not her message. Hopefully, she can add something of interest.)  983 A:  This is a example of an ancestor mask from the Lower Sepic River area of Papua New Guinea. It is a little rough and probably artificially aged for the tourist trade, but it is a classic design that would look good on the wall.  B Save Save

  • Oceania

    PNG Yam Mask

    This old mask is from the Abelam people who live in the East Sepik province of Papua New Guinea. They are a farming society in which giant yams are an especially important food source. The masks are used to decorate harvested yams. Carvings like this (collected more than 40 years ago) were not made with steel tools and are often more beautiful than the more modern versions. You can see this and many other authentic Abelam and Wosera yam masks from the Dick Jemison Collection at Galerie Mourlot in  New York City during Tribal Art Week, May 4-8. Thank you, David Cassera, for reminding us of this important show.

  • Oceania

    The fabulous Baining mask

    This is a famous mask that comes from one of the islands in the New Britain chain of the Pacific Ocean. It is quite large (almost as big at the tribesman who’s wearing it) and is made of tapa cloth stretched over a light wood frame. The large masks are spectacular folk art worn at night around a bonfire built by the Uramot Baining people who live in the mountainous interior of the Gazelle Peninsula, and used during performances of the snake dance. Very dramatic, and different from anything else you can see in the world of masquerade. I hope you enjoy it.

  • Oceania

    Classic Sepic River mask

    Q:   I have recently inherited 2 south pacific masks from my parents which they collected when on a trip during the 1980’s. I was wondering if you can tell me more about them. I have photos but can’t attach to this email. Hope you can reply and I can send you this pictures. Think 1 is from Papua New Guinea / Vanuatu.  Gerry, 945 A:  Thanks for sending the pics. I will comment on the mask with more detail and precision. It is a beautiful example of PNG work. Please go to “Oceania” and scroll down to post #899. What I say there applies to this one as well. Also,…

  • Oceania

    Lovely piece of PNG art

    Q:  Purchased in antique store for $35.00. All wood. Measures 30″H x 10″W. Has shells for eyes and a carved bird on the top. It has a string for hanging on the back. I have looked at a lot of masks and can’t quite identify this or put a value on it. Can you help?  Charlene, 938 A:  Thanks for the sharp photos of the front, side and rear. Good photos are always a big help to me. Papua New Guinea represents the last indigenous culture to be discovered by collectors. Now a few talented carvers are making especially nice pieces for the market. This particular mask is traditional in…

  • Oceania

    Spectacular mask from the South Pacific

    Part of the Oceanic area is the South Pacific, which includes the small islands east of Papua New Guinea. Many of the islands were first visited by Americans and Europeans about 200 years ago at the time Africa was being colonized as well. Both areas had masks and other traditional art that fascinated the explorers. This Malagan mask from the island of New Ireland, used for ceremonies honoring the dead, is indeed spectacular. Rarely do we see Oceanic masks of this quality outside museums or books. From a museum collection, this mask is shown on page 70 of our new book, Masks of the World.

  • Oceania

    Modern Mosquito Mask

    Q:  I was wandering around a Goodwill “end of the rode” store, where items are priced by weight! They were pushing large carts filled with ephemera towards the center of the store. People  always make  a wild dash to be the first one at the bins!! I waited until everyone had gone to another bin….and I found this mask. It cost me $1.99!  The mask is very light wood and reminds me of the Northeast masks of Canada. Any ideas about it would be appreciated. Regardless of it’s origins…I love it.  Mickey, 913 A:  You can’t beat that price. Well made tourist masks, wherever they come from, cost more than…

  • Oceania

    Mah Meri mask from Malaysia

    Q:  I thought you might enjoy seeing these.  The first two are Mah Meri masks from Malaysia, which I won at an auction for a very low price.  I also have a third, that I intend to sell.  I’ve been wanting one of these for a while, but I saw no way to get them short of going to Malaysia.  Notice that they have articulated jaws.  Aaron, 902 A:  Thanks for sharing this unique mask with us. The Mah Meri tribe of Malaysia have an elaborate ritual involving dancers with intricately-carved masks who perform the historic Main Jo-oh dance for the annual Hari Moyang festival in Pulau Carey, 90 miles…

  • Oceania

    Mask from Sepik River, PNG

    Q:  I came across this really interesting mask at an estate sale. They thought it might be Alaskan in origin. After i brought it home and did a little research of my own, i came across your website and from what i can tell i think it may be an example of a PNG Sepik River area mask.  Can you confirm or debunk this based on these pictures, and maybe give me an idea of how old you think it might be?  Eric, 899 You did your homework!  But now I want you to do more and try to find out how old this piece is. Mask made before the…

  • Oceania

    Lombok face mask

    Q:  Since aprile 2015 me and my wife are living on Bali, Indonesia. While exploring the island we’ve met a lot of people and shops with some authentic stuff – statuettes, pictures, dishes and different kind of masks.  We are decided to find and sell masks for designers and collectors. Also I can try to find something very special for you here on Bali.  Demid, 885 A:  Most of the masks we see from Lombok (a large island to the East of Bali and Java) are those very long and narrow carvings with colorful paint jobs. Actually, those are not real masks but are decorative wall art for the tourist…