• South America

    Modern Amazon Indian mask

    Q: I’m really just interested in the mask details as it’s really cool but heavily damaged. There really is no side as the mask is flat so I did a wide front, tight front and back. The hood appears to be very tightly woven burlap of some kind; possibly two or more layers of weave pressed together. I believe the mask is a very low temperature clay of some kind as it’s fairly brittle. There may be hairs in the clay. The clay appears to be coated with at least one layer of base coat before being painted over; possibly for smoothing or structure or simply color. There is a…

  • Africa

    Sande Society mask for women only

    Every mask collector wants one of these because all the other ones used in Africa are worn by men only. An old, used one like this would cost way more than most people could afford, but you can find reproductions that look better from galleries and the internet at a fraction of what this authentic artifact would cost. (Thrift shop and yard sales don’t work anymore.) Additional Information from AfricaDirect.com: Though many works of art have come out of the Guinea Coast region of West Africa few have as much prominence as the masks worn by the women of the Sande society of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone. Membership in…

  • South America

    Amazon animal mask

    Q: My wife and I picked up this mask while in Ciudad Bolivar. While flying in to see Angel Falls we bought lots of things (not the drug kit). Recently the mask flaked and I am trying to figure out what to do. We where told that the black paint is actually bee’s wax. We really are not going to sell the mask. Any ideas? Randy, 1594 A: Your photo represents some kind of wild animal indigenous to southern Colombia or Venezuela (maybe an owl monkey or skunk). The particular Amazon Indian tribe who dance this style of mask for religious purposes are called the Piaroa-Huarime. It is made of…

  • India & Himalayas

    Himalayan mask with open eyes and nose

    Q: Today I present to you my new buddy! I took it on Catawiki because I liked his nose (or rather his lack of it) not believing that he was a master chef. When I took it in my hands I realized it was a skull and I thought due to the three skulls on the head and the two side fans, it could be a Citipati. The smell is old wood and I love it. it looks like a picture 149 on page 40 of your book even if the definition of ebook does not allow me to investigate. It’s about 17 inches long.It looks old and used. The…

  • Guatemala

    More about Guatemalan morerias

    Q: This mask is a Guatemalan dance mask depicting the character of Pedro Alvarez. Material: brown wood with layers of paint and blue glass eyes that are fixed from the back with a hardened wax. Size: 8.9” x 6.1” (22,5 x 15,5 cm). On the front side I count 3 different layers of paint over a grounding of cream white gesso. On the back side are carved the initials AP and I have read that this is a maker’s mark (but cannot find the passage with AP again). Hanno, 1592 A: AP is the mark of Pedro Antonio Tistoj Mazariegos who had a moreria in Tetonicapan. You can see his…

  • Mexico

    Another Mexican decorative mask

    Q: Trying to find out the value of some masks that were given to me years ago. Gary, 1591 A: One of my goals for this website is to convince mask collectors around the world that Mexican decoratives deserve respect. They are often made by the same carvers who supply the village dancers with their “authentic” masks. The “decoratives” are made for selling to tourists and galleries. More than money-makers, these exciting masks are a creative outlet for the village artisans. Unlike the authentic dance masks that must always resemble a character’s traditional appearance, the decorative can look like anything imaginable. The ones I collect are always a surprise to…

  • Native America

    Inuit mystery mask

    Q: This came out of a private collection in Illinois. It’s very lite weight measuring 8.5” X 4.5” not including the feathers. Polychrome cedar ceremonial shaman’s mask from the Inuit. I’m a collector. Would you know the age of this and what type of mask is it? It appears to have been used several times in a ceremony of sort. PJ, 1590 A: I do not recognize this at all. Since I am not an expert on any of the Arctic cultures, let’s hope that one of our viewers will make a helpful comment. PJ, since you and the seller both specialize in these kinds of artifacts, perhaps you could…

  • Bali & Java

    Unusual Balinese monkey mask

    Q: Here’s an interesting Balinese mask I picked up recently. I don’t know which character it represents since there are several simian characters in Balinese topeng, but I thought the pompadour was unusual, and it’s very well-carved. The ears are separate pieces lashed on with twine. Dan, 1589 A: I agree. It is well designed, carefully made, and not something you see very often. Sorry, I can’t tell which simian characters it represents. The Mask Man isn’t an expert on everything! I’ll bet you only paid a modest price for it. I want our readers to realize that high quality reproductions are available, and they look just as good on…

  • Guatemala

    Guatemalan small mask, rare and old

    Q: This mask is rather mysterious to me, although I think it is still from Guatemala. Material: a heavy, dark brown wood with few rests of paint. The size is very small like for a child: 5.5” x 5.5” (14 x 14 cm). It shows a Spaniard with curly hairs, a thin long nose and beard. The style is severe, the painting very faded and reduced to stains, but I see traces of different layers of white (gesso?), red, blue and yellow. Small parts of the wood are chipped off like the tips of the beard, one with black wax on it, the lower lip and around the eyes. There…

  • India & Himalayas

    Pretty Raksha devil from Sri Lanka

    Q: I want you to see my last purchase which, unbelievable but true, also pleases my husband. It is a mask from Sri Lanka and looks rather old judging from the wood (not old due to the paint). I bought it at an online auction. Could you please tell me more about it? Monica, 1588 A: I’m pleased to hear that your husband liked this Raksha mask. (My wife was rarely pleased with my purchases.) It is especially handsome because the composition and coloration is so professional. Perhaps this carver is an art school graduate. However, it won’t impress any serious collector of Sri Lankan masks. That’s because it is…