Q: I acquired this silver mask in Bolivia about 30 years ago at a price of ca $100. At the time I was told that it is a funeral mask worn by the living who attended a funeral. Size of the mask is 5,5 by 4,5 inches. Any information that you are able to provide will be greatly appreciated. Gideon, 1001
A: At that small size and without eye holes, this is not something to wear. It would appeal to tourists and some collectors. There is a similar, but larger, mask on page 158 of my new book, Masks of the World. It says “this Pre-Columbian mask is 8″ high and made of beaten silver. It was bought in Bolivia in the 1950’s. There is a similar mask in the Museo del Oro of La Paz.” Two years ago when I was writing the book, I could not confirm this. Today I tried again… and failed again. I hope one of our readers will shed some light on these intriguing metal masks.
Later I did a search on the internet and discovered that silver Aymara masks, large and small, are a popular tourist item in La Paz. The Aymara are a large indigenous culture populating the Altaplano region in western Bolivia. These are often called Inca funeral masks.