• Guatemala,  Misc

    Authentic new Guatemalan masks

    Q: Attached are two views of mask made by Moises Lopez, Tactic, Guatemala, and one of his unfinished masks. I like unfinished mask and will purchase them if I can convince the mask maker to give one up before it is painted. I also have some masks that were purchased in Ecuador, Peru, Guatemala, and most are from Mexico. Some are gifts, some bought from make, some are tourist, some not. Janet Brody Esser confirmed Michoacan masks, but no estimate of value. What would it cost to appraise them? Jeri, 1686 A: The book “Masks of the World” describes in detail how authenticity affects the value of masks. Most valuable…

  • Africa

    Round Teke mask from Africa

    Wikipedia has this to say: The Teke people, or Bateke also known as the Tyo or Tio, are a Bantu Central African ethnic group that speak the Teke languages. Its population is situated mainly in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Republic of the Congo, with a minority in Gabon. The economy of the Teke is mainly based on farming maize, millet and tobacco, but the Teke are also hunters, skilled fishermen and traders. The Teke sometimes chose blacksmiths as chiefs. The blacksmiths were important in the community and this occupation was passed down from father to son. In terms of life of the Teke, the village chief…

  • Native America

    Tsimshian spirit mask of the upper air

    Q: What I stumbled on while going down a Tumblr rabbit hole was that it is a Tsimshian mask representing the spirit of Upper Air. Supposedly from BC, Canada (19th C.). Hans, 1684 A: Christie’s auctioned this mask last year for over half a million dollars. Obviously it is a very desirable artifact. I did see a similar Tlingit singing shaman’s mask somewhere. The Tsimshian and Tlingit cultures are situated next to each other in Southeast Alaska. There is plenty about their folk art in libraries and the Internet. Enjoy. A+

  • Mexico

    Mexican black Devil mask

    Q: Here’s another interesting Mexican devil mask to share with your followers. I purchased it online in 2018 for approx $60. Unfortunately the seller could offer very little detail regarding which state in Mexico it was from. The wooden portion of the mask is approx 8″x 5″ with some type of animal skin (goat?) attached around the perimeter. It also has what appear to be goat fur mustache and eyebrows. The teeth and fangs are applied wood. He is a very menacing, yet dapper looking fellow. Dan, 1683 A: Dan is a very experienced collector, but even the smartest guys can occasionally be stumped. All I can do is confirm…

  • Protection

    N 99 face mask

    I suspect that many people will find this blog unpleasant. Please forgive me. I have been trying to post all kinds of masks from around the world for 20 years… not just for cultural reasons, but for protection, pleasure, power, art, etc. There are well over 2000 different types of masks in the archives of MasksoftheWorld.com. This huge reference work must continue to be all-encompassing and up to date. Now we add its first anti-contagion cloth mask. I had to do it. Bob, 1682

  • Guatemala

    Smiling Gracejo mask from Guatemala

    Q: In these uncertain times, if you wish to show a sympathetic item, here is one. This smiling mask from Guatemala is a Gracejo, which could be translated as a joker. Actually, it represents a young foolish “Cristiano” in the dance “Baile Moros y Cristianos” also named “Baile Rey Tardecindo” in Alta Verapaz (area of Cobán). Typical feature is the tongue passing between teeth. Here the eyes are made of nuts, I guess acorns. The mask is extremely light in weight, the wood could be pine (probably pinabete– a typical pine of Mesoamerica). Also typical of Cobán area is the presence of a row of small holes in the lower…

  • Africa

    Decorative Mwana Pwo mask

    Q: I stumbled upon your website when I was trying to research this mask. I found in my parents attic. I simply have no information on it, and I’m very curious about its origin, make and purpose. There seems to be iron detail on lips and eyes, as well as a frog shape on the forehead. The “beard” and chin is made of woven string. The rest is carved wood with no makers mark. I’m so curious! If you have any insight or just jumping off points I would greatly appreciate it! Lisa, 1680 A: You can find out plenty of information on the popular Mwana Pwo mask on Google.…

  • East Asia

    Bugaku King Rangryo mask, Japan

    Our great friend, Aron Fellmeth of Second Face Museum of Cultural Masks has this to say: Bugaku is an official court dance of Japan, dating back to about 500 C.E. During the Heian period, Bugaku dances were so central to protocol that nearly all ceremonies and festivals included them. The dance was especially important in appeasing angry gods, purifying the village, and petitioning the gods for rain or a good harvest. The dance is performed to the music of drums and flutes. The dancers enter the stage singly in succession, then dance together in pairs, in synchronicity to varying tempos. Each dance has its own mask and is named after…

  • Oceania

    Cool tourist mask from PNG

    Q: You have seen this helmet mask back in 2010. I wonder if you have any further information on it since then. I bought it from a consignment shop on lay away…college student…little money. Mickey, 1678 A: I can’t remember that far back, but today I think your mask is an impressive carving from the Sepik River area of New Guinea. It is too creative to be considered a reproduction, and is tourist art at its best. Let’s hope there are some collectors and curators of Melanesian artifacts who would love a modern version of PNG traditional art. B

  • Africa

    Male and female Kifwebe masks from Africa

    With the coronavirus still spreading and everything around town closed, lets spend more time on the computer learning about ethnographic masks. Your first website to visit could be Rand African Art. Here is part of what Rand says about a pair of Kifwebe masks in his collection. These two are from the Songye people in the Democratic Republic of Congo. They are differentiated by gender and by their shape and size but also by the basic surface coloration and the decorative design and patterns on the surface. The masks said to represent a female are rarer than masks supposed to depict a male. Normally a band of mask-wearers is made…