• Protection

    Knights of old used masks

    Q:  Helmets count as a type of mask, right? I thought this one was particularly cool. Imagine showing up for a joust and your opponent is wearing this.  Found on twitter @TheHiddenWorld   Helmet (Savoyard Type) Germany 1620,  Jay, 1454   A:  Jay is right.  The face part of a helmet 1s both for protection and intimidation.  This is one of the most scary (and funny) pieces of armor from the middle ages I have ever seen. The other Savoyard helmet is not as funny, but it is in higher resolution so you can blow it up and see all the detail.  We have a category called “Protection” which also contains gas…

  • Africa

    Is masquerade still alive in Africa?

    Yes. Though painted with store-bought colors, some of the masks used today do not look much different than those from a 100 years ago. Others, like the five I’m showing today, are different. African folk art is changing just like so many other things. After all, the continent has experienced colonization, Christianity, Islam and urbanization. These are being used now in there respective cultures. They are not meant to be sold as collectibles for white people. We call them modern traditional art and they are hard to find on the internet or anywhere else. Most of what we see for sale today are poorly carved masks that try to look…

  • East Asia

    Japanese mask with long nose

    This is the famous Tengu. They’re known to inhabit the mountainous regions of Japan and fly from treetop to treetop carried by expansive feathered wings. Tengu are not necessarily evil creatures, but they probably shouldn’t be crossed. If you show the proper respect, they’ve been known to share their marital knowledge of the sword with us mortals, but beware their wrath at the same time. This powerful mask of Tengu is an extraordinary example of this character with its dramatic and spectacular face and nose. It represents the mischievous Forest God seen in Kyogen plays performed between Noh Dramas. It is both terrifying and intriguing, but it is a favorite…

  • Africa

    Water spirit mask from Niger delta

    Yoruba-Ijebu mask (24 inches long) for the Ekine cult, depicting the water spirit Igodo from the Wests African country of Nigeria was sold at  Sotheby’s. I believe these people are also referred to as Ijaw.  The Niger river dominates their region. The mask is often worn on the top of the head of a man walking in deep water. Then all you can see is this strange creature gliding across the river. I’ll bet you would like one of these on your wall. Don’t worry– you can sometimes find affordable reproductions on the internet. A Nigerian water spirit is a must for any African mask collection. This mask is a…

  • Guatemala

    Here is an authentic Guatemalan mask

    Q:  Here is a nice example of the “Torito” mask from Rabinal, Baja Verapaz, Guatemala. The presence of the scorpion between the horns is frequent, but the design of this one is of exceptional quality. Old repairs can be well seen on the back. Leather ears. From the 50-60s.   Jean, 1450 A: You have sent beautiful photos of one of the better Guatemalan toritos I have seen… at least in quite awhile. Years ago there were morerias that made masks, usually of Spanish characters, that could have been carved by Michelangelo. This high degree of excellence applied to other mask characters as well. The quality of carving in Guatemala has…

  • Africa

    Reproductions of African masks can be collectible

    Q:  I own a what I believe is a Dan mask which has been in the family for quite some time now. It has been much appreciated but now in search of a new home. Was wondering if you could tell me some things about the mask.   Dagomar, 1449 A:  Thanks for the excellent photos. Your Dan is the deangle type, with the familiar slit eye holes and vertical ridge on the bulging forehead. It is considered by the Dan to be very feminine. Even though it is a reproduction that could have been carved someplace other than Liberia or the Ivory Coast, it makes a great impression with it’s…

  • Africa

    Baule mask from West Africa

    The Baule were a tribe that originated in the present day Ivory Coast area in Africa many years ago.  The Baule assimilated a number of their neighbors’ masquerade forms: a naturalistic face mask, a horned helmet mask, and a flat circular mask called kple kple. The last of these, a male mask of junior rank, is one of several paired works that would perform sequentially in Goli society entertainments or funerals. It impersonates an unruly nature spirit that is considered to be both frightening and amusing. The flat, disk-shaped face with ringed eyes and rectangular mouth is surmounted by ears and large curving horns. The bold red coloring has contrasting…

  • Mexico

    New Parachico mask from Mexico

    Q:  Actually I have 100 Mexican masks.  A few also from Africa and Sri Lanka, but my main concern is the Mexican Collection.  They are all authentic dance masks I purchased from a collector in Mexico, so I know they are real, historic, danced in masks.  I can send a bit of info for each such as origin, character and dance plus a photo.  What would the cost be to give me an appraisal for each?  Michelle, 1447 A:  Michelle is asking for an appraisal estimate on high quality masks. I picked out this Parachico to share with my viewers what quality can mean. This one is new, but age…

  • Bali & Java

    Did she get a good deal?

    Q:  I bought this very cool mask in Ubud, Bali at an Antique shop. I believe it is depicting the deity Barong, a protective spirit. I’m not really sure how to tell how old it is or of it’s authenticity, but it sure is neat even if it’s just a low grade decorative piece! It’s about 9″ x 8″ with a depth of about 3.5-4″. It’s covered in some dirt and I’m not 100% sure how to best clean it without damage. Do you have any suggestions? It’s painted/stained with some red and gold tones and is definitely made of wood, but I’m not sure which kind. We didn’t pay…

  • India & Himalayas

    Kolam mask from Sri Lanka

    Q:  My wife and I own this mask that we believe comes from the Indian Ocean part of the world.  It is made from a light weight wood, has some damage, but looks good on our shelf.  Frederick, 1445 A:  You are right about location. This is a reproduction of a Kolam mask from Sri Lanka, the largest island in the Indian Ocean.The Kolam drama has existed from 15th century, but some Sri Lanka legends said that this genre of drama has a history spanning more than 2500 years. Regarding the definition of the term Kolam, most reseachers have argued that the word has its origins in South India. The…