India & Himalayas

Fake shaman’s mask from Nepal

Q: Is this mask from Nepal or possibly PNW? Jim, 1529

A: Lately I’ve done some blogs on the authenticity of ethnographic masks. It has been an issue with African tribal art for well over 100 years. By now the problem has spread to all parts of the world that welcome tourists looking for souvenirs. Nepal is no exception.

What you see here looks like a shaman’s mask from the Middle Hills region of the Himalayans that even has a red wax seal of the Nepalese customs service on the back. Then please go to our records and look at “Masks of the Himalayas” dated March 16, 2018, and “Himalayan Shaman’s Mask” dated June 7, 2018, to see how two authentic versions can look. These two masks should get an A. Today’s mask gets a C.

Nothing beats holding a mask in your hands. By visiting an experienced collector, a respected tribal art dealer, or an especially nice museum curator you can begin to learn the tricks.

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