• Africa

    Chokwe Mwano Pwo mask repro

    Q: I bought this mask in store in Sarasota. I love it. I would like to know what is the value. Maria, 1624 A: This particular Mwano Pwo Mask is traditional in style and would be affordable for most people. I saw another one that was nicer offered by a reputable dealer for $800. Here is what they had to say about their reproduction. Representing ideal young female beauty, Mwano Pwo were danced with male counterparts, Chihongo, during initiation ceremonies and other important occasions to bring fertility and prosperity to the village. Most share the depiction of facial scarification patterns, filed teeth, fanciful and inventive hair styles, tear motifs and…

  • India & Himalayas

    Primitive Nepalese mask

    Q: I have a nice old mask that I’m not sure of origin. I have an idea that it comes from Timor, but something also pointing in the direction of Himalaya. What do Mask of the world think? I hope you can and will help. Thanks in advance! Data: High 24cm. wide 15cm. depth 10 cm. Hardwood and hair. Looks like human hair, but not sure. Provenance: I bought a collection of old Greenlandic artifacts, which included this. Jan, 1623 A: The appearance of Timorese masks is sometimes confused with old Himalayan examples. With the hair and black, shiny color of the mask, I’ll go with rural Nepal or someplace…

  • East Asia,  India & Himalayas

    Traditional Buddhist mask from Mongolia

    Q: Slightly Mysterious… I recently purchased this mask at an online auction for approx $30. Not sure of origin since it was simply described as an “Asian Mask”. I don’t believe it was ever worn, but it’s very well made and certainly could have been . It measures 11″ X 9″ and carved from a lightweight wood. I’m guessing it’s from Bhutan or Nepal, based on the way the ears are carved and the exaggerated expression, but I could be wrong. Dan, 1622 A: I think of traditional Buddhist masks as being Himalayan, but they are also found as far north as Mongolia for use in the famous Tsam ceremony…

  • Mexico

    Mexican diablo mask

    Q: I hardly know anything about masks, but I acquired this one recently. I feel it has a great energy. It is carved Wood with Animal Antlers (I think it use to have teeth, but they are no longer there). I believe it might be a Mexican diablo mask, but really don’t know. Any information you can give me would be greatly appreciated! Approximate Measurements: OAH – 16″ (With antlers), 9″ Width, OAD – 7″ Jen, 1621 A: This is a primitive version of the devil. I agree with you about the “energy” and would be pleased to add it to my wall of Mexican masks. It could have been…

  • Africa

    Baule mask, authentic or repro

    Q: I bought several from an owner of a resale shop. They aren’t dealers and know very little about antiques. They came across a established photographer and painter and they ended up buying all he had. A storage unit I think. He worked in Chicago. They told me he said they were from Columbia. One says Ivory Coast on a piece of paper on the back. I paid 15.00 each and I would like to present them for sale. Janet, 1620 A: This looks to me like a Baule mask from Ivory Coast, West Africa. The problem is that you want to sell all of them and need to know…

  • Misc

    MASK by Chris Ranier

    I saw some of the beautiful pictures in this new book. Here is one of a Buddhist deer masks from the Mustang Region of Nepal. Sorry, my scan doesn’t do it justice. Check out more of them on the internet and see what you think. Here is what Amazon had to say about the book… MASK presents a striking collection of rare masks steeped in ancient tradition, captured through the lens of one of the world’s most celebrated documentary photographers. Chris Rainier has documented indigenous and endangered cultures worldwide. What began as a focus on the masks of New Guinea—where modernity threatened to erase ancient rituals and cultures—became an expansive…

  • Oceania

    25-in Ramu mask from PNG

    Q: Bought on ebay as Ramu ancestral mask for 225USD. It could be also from the Lower/Middle Sepik River area of Papua New Guinea. Seller claimed that it was collected in the 1970s. Wood, natural fibres, very worn off cassowary feathers and a couple of tips from what it appears to be bore tasks used as a decoration of the cheeks. 64 cm tall. Vesselin, 1618 A: I think it looks good and may be authentic. Check it carefully to see if carved with natural tools or steel. There were still a few areas in PNG not visited by Westerners in the 1970’s. Or it could be an excellent reproduction.…

  • Africa

    Bemba helmet mask

    Q: I recently acquired a mask from Bukavu, DRC. I’m told it’s a Bemba mask from the Uvira region. I was wondering if I could send you a photo to take a look to see if you might have more information on its quality and use. I’ve been told its quite old. It’s a helmeted mask with a carved face on four sides. It comes to a single wooden cylinder at the top and along the base it looks like there may be holes for a longer dress of grass or material. Matt, 1617 A: You a correct on culture and location. Here is some info I found on the…

  • Africa

    Don’t be afraid of African masks

    This is one of my favorite African masks. It is a Ngil from Gabon or Cameroon, wood colored with kaolin, by the Fang people, and from the Ethnological Museum of Berlin, Germany. Worn with full costume in a night masquerade to settle disputes and quell misbehavior, it is a sight to behold. African masks are the largest category of masks and the most popular. But many people worry about their authenticity. This has always been a problem. Today I googled “authentic African masks” and found that about 95% ranged from cheap tourist fakes to well made reproductions. African masks are often sold for more than their true value. But we…

  • Africa

    Mystery mask from the DRC

    Q: I happened to be in Paris during the annual international tribal art fair Parcours des Mondes (https://www.parcours-des-mondes.com). As such, we spent a few hours one afternoon hopping in and out of 2-3 dozen ethnographic art dealers, and I was quickly exposed to a wide variety of African masks, many of which were too expensive for the average collector due to their provenance and condition (e.g. Dan masks in the €8,000-€10,000 range). Although ethnographic art is new to me, I have been involved in numismatics and more recently ancient antiquities so I can understand how some of these pieces fetch large sums. That being said, these masks were far outside…