Masks of the World

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Real masks vs. decorative carvings

Q: I received this mask from a friend who found it, essentially in the garbage, while doing demolition work after a large flood. It is approximately 30″ x 12″ at the widest part. I have a general interest in artifacts from different parts of the world, particularly West Africa and Latin America (Amazonia in particular). Mike, 1358

A:  Quite a few decorative carvings come to me for identification each month. Yours is one of the more attractive ones, so I decided to make an exception and post a non-mask. People with little knowledge of tribal art enjoy them, but our viewers are collectors who avoid tourist souvenirs in favor of well made reproductions and true artifacts. Masks that were or could be worn in culture are often more attractive than yours, and are certainly more interesting. There is nothing more I can say about this piece other than it might look good in the home of a non-collector. D+

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