Africa

Typical African mask for sale

Q: I have owned this mask over 25 years. I bought it from a primitive art dealer in New Jersey. I was told it was an exorcism mask from Belgian Congo. Elephant hair on chin, animal teeth, and remnants of leather on the face of the mask have been added. I learned it was most likely from the Kumu tribe. My original thought was that it was Sukuma. My guess on age is right around turn of century if not older. Most people I show it to tell me it is one of the scariest, most disturbing things then have seen first hand. Shaun, 1740

A: Your primitive African mask was probably made in the 1990’s by the Sukuma, Kumu or one of the big shops in Cameroon. It was quickly carved and then artificially aged. Manufactured for tourists or exporters, stuff like this has been made in great quantities for over a 100 years to help poor Africans make a living. I hope you didn’t pay too much for it, because most of your money would have gone to the dealer and importer. D

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