South America

Piaroa-Huarime character mask

Q:  I know this mask is from the Amazon. Alma, 1830

A:  It would help to know from whom, when and where you got it; and how much you bought it for.

These Amazon Indians live on the Orinoko River between Colombia and Venezuela. They’re unusual looking masks are made of blackened beeswax which has been caved and colored with white clay. The base and fabric are also of natural materials found in the surrounding jungle. I don’t know who this character represents, but it was made to be used used in ceremony or sold to exploring tourists. There are many different masks depicting gods and animals as well. Some come with long skirts in various styles. Nowadays they all can be bought on the internet.  B+












  • Carmen

    The mask is from the Piaroa tribe, close to the city of Puerto Ayacucho in Venezuela.This one was not made for was used for ritual dances and it seems to be from around 1970s. They represent spirits of the woods. You can not buy those older masks on Internet. They sell some newer copies which are not made the same way and have different features and have no expression. You can fix the broken surface yourself . You just need to heat the black wax until it goes soft and spread it
    with a stick to cover the split. Saliva applied with the finger is the way the indians flatten the surface as soon as the wax cools a little.If you want to buy a similar mask at a specialized dealer be prepared to pay between 800 to 2.000$ if they are original and in good shape.They are not around any more and rather rare.The white stripes are Kaolina which is mixed with other fibers and Peraman glue. I collect ancient ritual objects of the Orinoco tribes and those older masks are not around anymore.The bark can be washed and shaped while it is wet.

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