Identifying Carved Wooden Masks?


I picked up these two masks at an estate sale so I have no information of their origin or value (if any). The owners of the home had very eclectic taste and seem to be well traveled. I am curious if they are Native American or Aztec? Or just a touristy novelty item. It seems like too much skill involved for that as they do appear to be hand carved out of a single piece of wood. They are about 2 feet tall. Any info would be appreciated. Please & thank you.


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April 16, 20200 found this helpful

This kind of mask is a very narrow, niche market. I know very few people can look at these and determine real antique, valuable collectible, or cheap tourist trap item from just photos. Most want to see and feel them.

They do not look to be Native American. My guess would be Mexican or Guatamalean, but that is a very loose guestimate based on seeing these at the flea markets over the years.

My best suggestion, is to find a reputable company/expert, by calling your local history museum and asking for a reference to help ID and value them.

Please post back what you learn! Thanks for sharing!

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April 16, 20200 found this helpful

This type of art is something I have never researched but I have seen some fairly original looking items such as this at larger flea markets. Most of those were 'tourist' items shipped in from Columbia, Mexico, etc and sold as such.
Some people like these and cannot afford the 'real' thing.
The reason I feel these are not hand made as it is very unusual to find something handmade and this large that seems to not have a single 'flaw'.

I agree with Pghgirl that taking them to an expert would be the best - just in case they have value.
If you have a university near you that has some sort of ancient tribal art classes you may find a teacher or student that could give you insight - but hands on would be the only way.

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April 17, 20200 found this helpful

A lot of masks like this are from Indonesia. But the ones you have here are from Mexico. I think they were made near Cancun. I did see some factories back in the 80s when I was working there. I love masks and collect them from around the world and the designs on yours are from this area. I have a few of them I picked up in the 80s from a person who was sitting on the road carving them by hand. Not sure of the value of them now but back then I think I paid like $10 for each one I bought.

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April 17, 20200 found this helpful

These are very nice for tourist novelty! At the same time, I do not have a clue where to look for the origin or value of these pieces. You could take them to a art or antiques dealer for answers. These could be worth more than that just novelty pieces. If so there is a lot of great craftsmanship put in on these being hand carved!

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