• 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.

  • Misc,  Unknown

    Building a good collection is hard

    I try to post as many masks as possible. However, for every interesting mask I see, there are several that I can’t publish. Here is a typical answer from the Mask Man for one that won’t get posted. Jeff— I found this mask at a garage sale. The women we bought it from said her husband picked it up from Africa many years ago. It is 11 inches long and 6 inches wide and made from wood. Any information you can give us about this mask would be great. Bob— This is an attractive carving that looks like a mask from Africa. It was made to be sold as a…

  • Unknown

    Another exciting mystery mask

    Q:  This one is stumping me in a big way.  The nose and nose decoration looks like they are made of bone.  The hide is slightly hairy on the inside.  Judging by the condition of the leather, which is rock hard, it is probably at least 30 or 40 years old, but I have no clue where it is from.  Given that the other masks in the collection are mostly from Mexico and Nepal, my instinct is to say Nepal, but I’ve never seen a Nepalese mask even remotely similar.  Any ideas?  Aaron, 1250 A:  My instincts say Mexico, somewhere in the Northwest between Sonora and Jalisco. Also, I vaguely…

  • Unknown

    Decor items vs. artifacts

    Q:  I have 11 tribal masks that I would like to sell.  Some have beads on their faces and others have teeth.  They are all different and pretty cool.  However I have no clue about  what tribe made them.  Please let me know if interested and I will send photos.  Connie, 1242 A:  I’m breaking several of my own rules and publishing the photo of your 11 wood carvings. They were made to look like tribal masks and to be sold as souvenirs or as wall art. Tourist items like these can be fine for decoration, but real masks– the ones that are actually worn in native cultures– are sometimes…

  • Unknown

    Mask made from a turtle shell

    Q:  I just bought this unusual turtle mask at a local thrift/consignment shop for $25. I’ve no idea of it’s origin or function and hesitate to take a guess! Would appreciate any information you can give me about it. Mickey, 1239 A:  Turtle shells can be the right size and weight to fit nicely over the face of a performer. I think they have been used as masks for thousands of years in certain parts of the world. Of course, it’s harder to find them than masks made with more common materials. Yours might come from Central Africa, Melanesia (PNG, etc.) or the Himalayan region. It will be a very…

  • Mexico,  Unknown

    Another Mexican Devil mask

    Q:  The mask with the horns is approximately 12×10 inches. The other that has folding flaps is approximately 15×15 inches. Any information about these would be appreciated.  Ryan, 1116 A:  I decided to post your you mask because we had a Guatemalan Devil yesterday and one from another part of Mexico the day before that. Look at how different these 3 Diablos are. Yours is from the state of Guanajuato and is made to be used in the Pastorela dance which has 7 different Diablos representing the seven deadly sins. Please resubmit the other mask in a few weeks because we can only publish one mystery mask at a time…

  • Unknown

    Hard to identify or just tourist

    Q:  I have a large mask from up-country in the Ivory Coast. I believe this is the original article and not a tourist “knock off.” I’m looking for more information as to origins and price. Can I send you a pic? (later)  More pictures, at last, Bob. Sorry still not one of the back. The mask is languishing in Vietnam with friends who are about to move back to the states. If you know anyone who wants to rescue it let me know.   David, 1104 A:  I think this is a tourist mask from Africa or Asia. Most of the masks in thrift shops or the Internet fall into this…

  • Africa,  Unknown

    A mystery from Africa

    Q:  Je suis en possession de ce masque mais je n’ai aucune idée de sa provenance et s’il a une quelconque valeur ou simplement décoratif.  Vous est-il possible de m’éclairer sur le sujet ?  Il mesure 24cm/9,5 inches.   Jean Luc, 1094 A:  My wife translated this. Jean Luc wants to know what the mask is. Of course… and so do I. Dear fellow collectors, please give me your thoughts. The photographs are good. It doesn’t look like airport art. If the patina is fake, it would have taken a lot of time and effort.  B+ Save Save

  • Unknown

    A wild and crazy mask

    Q:  I was hoping you could tell me about this mask. I was told that it was a Guatemalan dance mask. I find that hard to believe as I’ve never seen a Guatemalan mask that looks anything like this. My first impression was that it looked like a Northwest Indian mask. I would appreciate any info you might have on this…Thanks very much.   Ray, 1091 A:  It’s got a modern West African vibe, but it could come from other places. Because it appears to be carved very thin and has a grab bar on the rear, somewhere in the Southwest Pacific is a possibility. Please, you people out there,…

  • Native America,  Unknown

    Leather skull mask

    Q:  The one that looks like a skull is the one made from a hide.  The attached braids and beads are very brittle.  I know nothing about it.  My Dad passed away 10 years ago and it was tucked away in a trunk.  He loved Native American art and collected some pipes and other objects many years ago.  I’m guessing this was one of his finds.  I’d love to know the origin of it.  Mostly I’m concerned about the condition and would like to see it restored or preserved.  Marc, 991 A:  This mask is too much of a mystery for me. I hope one of our visitors will have…