• Unknown

    Where is this mask from?

    Q:  I am doing some research for a community group on museum objects that are locked away in stores with no information about them. We have located this mask but can not find any information on it.  Tara, 1443 A:  This is a mystery mask. It is labeled “East Africa,” but I doubt if that is where it is from. Though it has a primitive look, this wood carving has been quickly made with steel carving tools and a branding tool. It’s probably made for sale to tourist. The question is “where does it come from?”  If you have any ideas, please make a comment. Let’s help Tara.    …

  • Unknown

    Presentational Javanese mask

    Q:  This well-carved mask has a strong aura to it. My friend said that he had to take it out of his office because of it’s effect on people. What kind of ritual was it used for? Thanks in advance.   Cha, 1415 A:  It is well carved, but then not painted, which is not traditional for a Topeng character mask from Java, Indonesia. The most unusual thing about this item is the carved seal on the back. I wish someone would comment on its origin. I assume the lettering is in Malay. My guess is it was made to be a nice gift for an important person. It could…

  • Mexico,  Unknown

    Don Juan the maskmaker

    Mexico lost a great artist when Juan Horta Castillo, perhaps Mexico’s finest mask maker in recent years, passed away of a heart attack in 2006. He was one of the principal and most sought-after carvers from the famed mask-making village of Tocuaro, Michoacán. He won the national mask contest several times and traveled extensively demonstrating his skills. His sons now carry on his tradition and have made a name for themselves in the art of mask making. The decorative mask we have here is actually piece of fine art sculpture. Don Juan made it for collectors, not to be used in a dance. As I said recently in the blog…

  • Unknown

    Yao shaman’s mask

    There’s a Yao mask in our archives, but this one is old, used and a bit more interesting. It would have been used by a priest or shaman to frighten away evil spirits. The Yao are a large indigenous culture that is in the mountains of southern China, Laos and Vietnam. They are one of the larger ethnic minorities in the area.  1408

  • Unknown

    Old, used Urhobo mask, Nigeria

    Q:  I found this mask at a thrift store. Can you tell me anything about it? Mike, 1399  (no email address)A:  This appears to be a museum quality mask, not a fake. I have shown it to several dealers and collectors, all of whom have different opinions. Now it is published on the Mask Man blog and I am waiting for your opinion. After we hear from you I’ll make a decision and post a comment for all to see. Then something nice will be sent to the winner.  🙂

  • Unknown

    Interesting mystery mask

    Q:  I have been trying to find out more about this mask but have not come very far. Is it maybe a diablo mask? Another possibility would be an Asian mask because of those bulging eyes. The mask fits my face and the holes for the eyes are in the right place, but there are no attachment holes. I suspect that it is a tourist piece.  Roosje, 1357 A:  Thanks for sending in your three excellent photos. Unfortunately, once again, the Mask Man is stumped. I hope someone will help me out. It has a nice form and good colors. Also there are things about it that don’t look like…

  • Misc,  Unknown

    Ancient clay mask

    Q:  The lady that I got this mask from for ten dollars last year said that she believed it originally came from China.  It measures six inches in diameter.  It is made of clay, and a friend who did ceramics told me that it was fired at a lower temperature than that of a modern kiln.  Thank you for looking.   Fred, 1308 A:  Perhaps it is an Asian piece, but I think it is more likely from Mexico or further South. That is not based on any expertise. It is just the fact that I see more “ancient” ceramics from the new world than the old. Sadly, most of…

  • Unknown

    Primitive mask purchased in Goa

    Q: Nate has sent me several emails with good photos of this carving he bought from a dealer in Goa. All the guy told him was that it was very old and worth a lot of money. I doubt if a mask like this comes from a prosperous ex-Portuguese colony on the West Coast of India. The big question is whether it’s an old tribal artifact or not. A:  I have my doubts. But if you like your masks aged, you can’t do better than this one.

  • Unknown

    Don’t worry about this “mask”

    Q:  Some abnormal events have occurred since bringing my mask home. Would like to know the history of this mask as soon as possible. Please…  Spencer, 1291 A:  You should be okay. It’s not a real mask. And remember that masks have spiritual power only in the culture that uses them. Carvings like this are meant to be sold at airports and tourist destinations. I get a lot of pictures of these souvenirs. Most of the new owners think they have bought a “mask” that has been used in a ceremony and might be worth some money. Of course, my answer usually disappoints them. I hope you are pleased instead. …

  • Africa,  Unknown

    Boolean version of African mask

    Masks like this one come from Liberia or Ivory Coast. It could be from the Bete, We or Kran people. We know that African masks had an influence on Western modern art in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, but this is recent. In most computer programming languages, a Boolean data type has only two possible values: true or false. I like the way this sculpture looks. Is it Boolean or not? You can read and see more about Boolian design here.