• Misc

    Primitive Tribal Masks 101

    Q: I would like to know more about this mask. Is it authentic and if it is, where does it come from? Value? Thanks, Renske, 1768 A: Our nice looking mask is about as primitive as it can get. I have seen authentic carvings like this from Africa, the Himalayans, and the South Pacific. Unfortunately, ours was made to sell to tourist. Just where is anybody’s guess. So forget about buying a motorcycle. The good news is, this down-to-earth wall-sculpture can be enjoyed by all. And maybe one of our viewers will recognize something I missed. C    

  • Mexico

    Oaxacan tigre mask

    Q: I bought this mask at an antique store in Oaxaca de Juarez, Oaxaca, Mexico. The owner told me it was made in Zitlala, Guerrero, but it was used at the carnival in Penotepa Nacional, Oaxaca. He did not know how old it is, but that it was ‘very’ old. (perhaps the condition of the leather on the back offers some very rough terminus ante quem. It still has the whisker and eyebrow hair made from the bristle of wild javelina. I want to get it restored somehow but don’t know where to go (I’m currently in Mexico and will likely take it back with me to New York.) I…

  • Misc

    Latest mystery mask

    Q: I just wish to know the origin of this mask. Thank you. Jean, 1766 A: Glad you sent this in. I’ve been seeing similar masks for a few years now. But I can’t find out where they are coming from. Whether it is an authentic artifact, or something made for commerce must be determined by others. African or Asian? Perhaps one of our viewers will have a comment. Please help us. Jean is an exert on Guatemalan masks, and I’m supposed to be the world famous Mask Man!

  • Mexico

    Famous old Mexican tourist mask

    Q: Is my silver-plated copper mask as old as it looks? I noticed that when I tried it on and rested my chin on the chin piece, that my nose actually fitted the opening and eyes lined up perfectly. So perhaps it was actually made to be worn? Great earrings hanging cone shaped flowers with stamens inside the flowers and edge of petals gently turned back. One earring is detached and needs to be soldiered back on again. Charles, 1764 A: Some books on Mexican masks say this was used in the “Rain-petitioning dance” in parts of rural Guerrero. These large, flat masks are called Barbones (bearded old men). Made…

  • Africa

    African bird mask of questionable value

    Q: I’m pretty sure this mask is a tourist repro, but would you be able to let me know for sure? Marie, 1763 A: It is definitely a repro. But there is much more we would like to know. Does it come from the Dan or the Baga people? Is it true to the tribe’s traditional designs and markings, or is it a mix of both? If it is the former I would give it a B. Mixes would be in the C range. This bird mask could have been made in Liberia or the Ivory Coast by the Dan tribe, or one of their near relatives. It probably represents…

  • Native America

    NWC Native American mask

    Q: I purchased it as-is. It was relatively cheap because of the extensive cracking damage from drying out. We added the string in the back for hanging on the wall, so that is not original to the piece. The hair plugs are quite coarse and long so I’m guessing horse tail, but I couldn’t say for sure. Sarah, 1762 A: This nicely designed and made mask was probably carved by a Native American in 2020 for use or sales. But something happened to it, so Sarah was able to get it cheap. Let’s try to find out who the carver is. He is obviously a skilled artist. The eyes are…

  • Misc

    Large mask or sculpture

    Q: Just wondering if anyone can tell me about this mask. It probably weighs 45 lbs. Three feet tall by 1.9 wide, 7 inches deep, it’s huge! Gary, 1761 A: The look of your huge “mask” is a little confusing. It could be a sculpture made for a specific reason, or a big mask held by hand. Whether it is an authentic artifact, or something made for commerce must be determined by others. African or Asian? Perhaps one of our viewers will have a comment. All I can say is that it is very decorative and will display well.        

  • Africa

    Mysterious Pende mask

    Q: I would like to have your views on the origins of this mask, which I bought for about $40 at an antique dealer in Montreal who was not used to dealing with African masks. As you can see, it is damaged and it seems rather old, and has has a very strong presence. The shape of the face somehow reminds me of some Pende masks I have seen, but this one remains mysterious. Jean-Francois, 1760 A: Despite the wear and damage, this beautifully carving does indeed make a strong presence. Unfortunately, I cannot identify the character it represents or tribal group from which it comes (along the Kwilu River…

  • Africa

    Bundu mask from Sierra Leone

    There are two other Bundus in our archives. This one is different because it has a white decoration and a full skirt. Used by the Sande Society for the passage into womanhood by Mende girls, it is the only mask in Africa that is not worn by men. Note that there are 1759 masks in this website’s archive. Press the “Q” on the right of the home page, type in a word and then press “Enter.” Keep trying different words or combinations until you get what you want. There are about 1000 more masks in the book, Masks of the World by Ibold & Yohn, which you can order on…

  • Europe

    Court Jester Mask

    From hundreds of years ago to today, this famous mask has been used in Europe and the Americas a lot. They can be made of leather, like this one– or plastic, papiermache, cardboard, etc., plus many different colors and designs. They have always been used in theater, carnivals, parties, holidays and celebrations. They can be found in all sorts of places at almost any price. Always fun to collect, you can gradually work your way up to an older, high-quality mask like ours. If you’re an oldster like me, you might need something to do during the pandemic. Bob, 1758