• Native America

    Eskimo hunter’s mask

    Q: We went to a cool museum, the Maryhill Museum of Art (in Portland, OR), to kick off Ida’s birthday. Came across this guy and thought of you. Hans, 1778 A: And I thought of my viewers. This is an especially well made shaman’s mask from the Eskimos in or close to Alaska. Some of these comlplex wooden masks are still used, but most are sold to tourist. They are often signed by the carver and are a nice source of income for the otherwise poor Eskimos of the Pacific North West. A

  • Africa

    Dogon Hare’s Mask with figure on top

    Q: It is certainly Dogon, as it has all of the classic cubital facial planes typical of their masking. However, the seller identified it as a Dogon hunters mask. I’m not sure I’m convinced this is the proper categorization. First, the mask has all of the typical formations of the Hare mask (or Gomintogo) of the Dogo people of Mali. But what really sets it apart, and in my view, raises questions about its classification as a “hunters” mask, is the standing female figure on top. This is not typical of the hunters mask, although I’ve seen some images with female head mounts. Quincy, 1777 A: This looks authentic to…

  • Africa

    Mbunda wise, old man mask

    100 years old and heavily used, this badly damaged mask is still a joy to behold. Here is what Jean-Baptiste Bacquart has to say… The Mbunda live in West Zambia, on either side of the Angolan border. They are subdivided into groups (Subiya, Mbalango etc). The ‘Sachihongo masks’ of the Mbunda denote a powerful, mighty chieftain, a hunter and a medicine man, who had lived a long time ago. This mask of the ‘wise, old grandee’ is used in the initiation of boys where it embodies the figure of the all adjudicating respected authority. Carved in lightweight, light-colored wood and colored dark brown. On the front side can be found…

  • East Asia

    Traditional Japanese Noh mask

    Q: I want to sell this Noh mask. Could you give me some idea of its value? Sharon, 1775 A: If you want retail, wholesale and insurance values, plus marketing advice, your will have to pay for an appraisal. What you are getting now is a B- grade… at no charge! Your attractive piece is a typical male character from a Noh theater play. However, it has been hastily made for sale to Japanese homemakers or foreign tourists. How do we know that? If you enlarge the front scan you can see that the painted details are sloppy. But on the wall it is well enough made to look professional.…

  • Mexico

    Pilate mask from Guerrero

    Charles sent these scans along with those of four other masks for an appraisal. I asked if I could post this one with its great beard and moveable jaw. In my opinion it characterizes Pontius Pilate in the Dance of Santiago as celebrated by the Nahua people living in the state of Guerrero, Mexico. Though well used and possibly old, it is still wonderful to behold. I hope Charles will share more information about his valuable piece of folk art in our comments box. Bob, 1774

  • Africa

    Turtle shell Bwami mask from Africa

    Q: I purchased this mask for $150.00 today at an antique shop in Ticonderoga, NY. It’s made from a turtle shell. The antique shop owner believes it’s an aboriginal Indian ceremonial mask but wasn’t sure. I’m new to collecting masks and hoping I didn’t over pay but the mask looks very old and legit. Matthew, 1773 A: I don’t think you over paid by much. It’s new and made for sale to the trade, however this beautiful, well made mask is from the Lega tribe in the middle of the Democratic Republic of Congo, which is the largest country on the continent. Masks and figures are symbols of the Lega…

  • Mexico

    Yaqui clown mask from Mexico

    Q: Just wanted to share this mask that I purchased online last year. I thought you and the folks who appreciate authentic cultural masks would enjoy seeing it. It’s a Yaqui clown or joker mask carved by Preciliano Rodriguez Cupis sometime in the 80’s. The seller provided the following information about the mask: The Mayo Indians are an indigenous group living in the Río Mayo valley in Southern Sonora and the Río Fuerte valley in Northern Sinaloa, Mexico. The pascola is the “old man of the fiesta” that is the literal translation of the Yaqui word Pahko’ola. The ceremony does not start until he enters the ramada and it ends…

  • India & Himalayas

    Valuable Kolam mask

    Q: I had had this mask for over 35 years. My mother-in-law gave it to me from the estate of her mother-in-law, if I remember correctly. She said it was quite old when she gave it to me 35 years ago. She thought it was a Korean mask, but she was unsure of its provenance and how or when it was acquired. Her mother in law was a interior designer from the 1930’s or so, from Santa Rosa, CA, but she traveled the world, so it could have come from anywhere. Catherine, 1771 A: This is a Kolam mask from Sri Lanka, the largest island in the Indian Ocean. The…

  • Africa

    Help end the mystery

    Q: If you can identify region. Alma, 1770 A: Alma, I wish you would write a bit more about this interesting mask. Who you bought it from, when, where, how much you paid, dimensions, etc. Any of this info might help a person remember something. I can’t remember seeing a mask like it, but will classify it as African because that seems like a descent guess. We know you would like to identify its tribe and location, as well as determine authenticity. Who knows, it could be quite valuable. Thanks for sharing your Mystery Mask with us. Bob

  • Oceania

    Hat mask from Vanuatu in Solomon Is.

    Last night I watched Antiques Roadshow and was surprised to see a mask similar to this one, which comes from Oceanic Arts Australia. Authentic tribal masks are seldom seen on TV shows, or anywhere else, for that matter. This beautiful older and used ceremonial mask is from the Namba People from the interior of Malekula Island in Vanuatu. In 1986 trips were made to Vanuatu to look at traditional art and culture. The people took us into their homes, fed us and gave us a chance to get to know them and make contacts with tradition artists preparing for ceremony. This beautiful hat mask came from the village of Venamboas…