Africa

Interesting fake from Cameroon, or authentic mask from Angola

Q: Hi, thank you for your help. I have this mask and can not find another one like it. What can you tell me! I have an excess of masks, and am trying to sell some of them. Diane, 1567

A: I haven’t seen one quite like this. A good guess is that it was made somewhere in Cameroon to look like an old and used Ekoi helmet mask. They are often of carved wood covered with animal skin and painted. The overall structure is of stiff basketry.

If you try to sell it I hope you resist calling it an authentic Ekoi mask. It is instead a quickly made tourist souvenir that was probably put together recently and then artificially aged with much enthusiasm. Fake aging is routine with the African masks we see on the market today. I think this one is a lot of fun, but it shouldn’t cost much. C

But wait– both Aaron and Eric (very experienced collectors, say this is a Chokwe Cikunza mask from Angola or Zambia. I looked for pictures and could find only two Cikunzas that looked similar. See what you think.

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