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Identifying a Carved Wood Mask?

October 21, 2020

Carved wooden masks with long beards.Trying to find out what these are, where they are from or any information about them. Thanks in advance

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The back of a wooden mask.
 
The back of a wooden mask.
 
The back of a wooden mask.
 

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Bronze Post Medal for All Time! 105 Posts
October 21, 20201 found this helpful
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The shape and carvings on the masks are very similar to masks made or carved in Africa. At first, because of the long beards on the masks, I thought they were from China. But the carving on the face is not from this region. I have checked out other cultures that make wooden masks and the design and carving techniques for your masks seem to point to the African region. I am not finding the exact masks that you have here but I have seen a few masks from Africa that would match the carving on your mask. African masks have a unique history behind them and it is very interesting to read up on the history.

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Bronze Feedback Medal for All Time! 196 Feedbacks
October 21, 20201 found this helpful
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I have seen, but not in years, similar masks and people called them Elder Man or Fu Manchu. Do they have something to hang them on the back--a metal hook or wood loop? That can sometimes be used to help date them. Older pieces often had wire, newer, hooks. My guess is they were made to be wall hangings and they have a touristy look to them. They look much to small to be masks that people would wear in ceremonies and the detail is not as fine as it would be on a true ceremonial piece (in my opinion).

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If you have a museum nearby, maybe they can confirm what they are and what era/decade they were from. They have a 1960s vibe to me, but they could have been made with that vibe just last week.

Once you learn more about them from someone who can hopefully see them in person, post back and I can help you value them and give you tips on selling!

Thanks for sharing!

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Bronze Feedback Medal for All Time! 196 Feedbacks
October 23, 20201 found this helpful
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Thanks for the info and more pictures. My best guess from the back is hand carved, possibly using a pattern like in some of the 1970s wood carving magazines. It does not look professional from the back to have been a tourist piece (my opinion). Definitely made to be a wall hanging, no ceremonial use for it (that I can see).

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Have your museum check it out and see if they think different. From my experience if it is a OOAK (one of a kind) hand crafted piece. They can sell from $5-$50 depending on your market and demand.

Thanks for sharing and for the additional info.

Post back what you learn!! I hope I am wrong and you have something totally rare and valuable. That is what every reseller wants to find in the wild!! Sadly, what I mostly find is cool stuff with a fair return on investment but I have a whole lot of fun finding, learning, and selling!!

Blessings!

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16 More Questions

Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

March 17, 2021

Can anybody tell me what the origin of these masks is? Is this from Africa? tribal mask? Do you know what type of wood this is? The dimensions are 24.5in x 7in at the widest point.

Would anybody know what the value of this mask would be? It is definitely hand carved and would anybody have an idea how old it is? Thank you very much.

Origin of Mask?- two long narrow ovoid maskx
 
Origin of Mask?
 

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Gold Feedback Medal for All Time! 949 Feedbacks
March 25, 20210 found this helpful
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I do not have information about your masks except to say they appear to 'decorator/wall masks' and I have seen similar masks sold in airport tourist shops when I traveled to different countries many years ago.

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It will take some research and 'work' on your part to find very much information about your vintage masks as these are specialty items that most facts are usually only by people who specialize in these items.

You might start by using Google & African business restaurant your zip code and try showing your masks to some of these places to maybe determine if they are African and maybe what part of the country. You will have to locate true African decent that may have lived in one of the areas and moved to the US.

If you do not do this you can post your pictures on these sites and see if anyone can help you.
Reddit is the best site but it is difficult to use; especially posting pictures so you might have to ask for help. You may have to join sites before you can post:

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www.reddit.com/.../

Someone may be able to help you on these sites:
www.artkhade.com/.../contact

YouTube: contact the person
www.youtube.com/watch?v=x_OLFjhCcJo

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February 15, 2021

Hi, I'm new to this site, just wondering if someone with a bit of experience can identify this mask? Thanks.

A carved wooden mask in a primitive style.
 

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Bronze Feedback Medal for All Time! 196 Feedbacks
February 15, 20210 found this helpful
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Thanks for asking!

Masks are a challenge because there are so many types and kinds--real and those made to look real, but for tourist trade. Sometimes it takes a trained expert to actually see the piece to make a final decision.

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There is a website called arttribal.com/.../contact-us

They may be able to offer you some info.

It will help to have the history of the piece that you know readily available--when did you get it? How big (length, width, depth)? They will probably ask for front, back, side photos. What is it made from (wood, metal, plastic, vinyl, etc.)

Post back what you learn! One thing I love about Thrifty Fun is the educational posts remain as legacies so that future searchers can find information!

Thanks for sharing!

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Bronze Post Medal for All Time! 107 Posts
February 19, 20210 found this helpful
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I have some art history experience and the eye shapes and eyebrow shapes make me think of masks from the Uruk era/Mesopotamia en.wikipedia.org/.../Mask_of_Warka

I don't have a lot of experience with African tribal masks but I suppose it is plausible vatican.com/.../Masks-War-Mask I sort of looked but could not see one like it

I'm no expert but the shapes look very stylized/streamlined, in a way that makes me think of a contemporary artist or design house trying to go for some atavistic look. Something about the nose in particular looks suspiciously modern to me.

What would help answer more is to know where you got it and does it look like it was hand carved or with power tools - from the look of it, power tools but maybe not

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May 15, 2021

Hi, I bought this mask on a flea market and I wanted to know where it's from. Could someone please help me find out where this mask is from, if possible? Thanks!

A decorative wooden mask.
 
The back of a carved wooden mask.
 

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October 5, 2020

My friend found this when cleaning out her grandmothers house. We have no history on it but her grandparents traveled the world. So we are wondering where it came from.

There is no signature that I see but in the noise it looks like maybe a figure with horns. Any input would be great. Thanks

Painted mask with fur and horns.
 
The inside of a wooden mask.
 
The inside of a wooden mask.
 

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Bronze Feedback Medal for All Time! 196 Feedbacks
October 5, 20200 found this helpful
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Interesting. Probably late 20th century, possibly African style. If the hair is synthetic and the piece is a paper macy's material, it most likely a tourist or airport gift shop type piece. If you are near a museum or college, I would have them verify because I can't see or touch it. Post back what you learn!

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Bronze Post Medal for All Time! 105 Posts
October 5, 20200 found this helpful
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This is an African Mask that represents an animal or an ancestor. The person who actually wears one of these masks believes it will turn them into a tribal warrior or leader. They think they are invincible when one of these masks is worn. Some say it makes the wearer of the mask an invincible force to reckon with.

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November 16, 2021

Hi y'all. I recently acquired this solid carved mask at an estate sale but can't find comps or where was made. Any help is always welcome.A wooden mask.

 

Thanks.

The carved side of a wooden mask.
 
The back of a wooden mask.
 
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November 1, 2020

Can anyone help me identify these two pieces? Thank you.

A carved wooden mask.
 
A decorative carved wooden staff or spear that says "Jambo".
 
The back of a carved wooden mask.
 
Identifying Carved Wooden Pieces?
 

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Bronze Post Medal for All Time! 140 Posts
November 1, 20200 found this helpful
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These are both hand carved pieces. The mask does not appear to be one that is worn, The stick is also tribal hand carved with a African Swahili word- Jambo- which is Swahili greeting or salutation. en.wikipedia.org/.../jambo_(greeting)- These hand carved sticks where often given as gifts and hold special meaning for each one. www.bing.com/.../search?q=african+wooden+stick+form...

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Gold Feedback Medal for All Time! 949 Feedbacks
November 4, 20200 found this helpful
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I believe both of these were probably made for the tourist trade several years ago and this is how the tribes made their living expenses.
My daughter visited Africa as a guide several times in the late 70-80's and these are the type of items that most of the visitors wanted to bring home. Not sure how old these are but most of the items were made the same except for 'handmade' differences.
The stick does not have an appropriate 'top' to be a walking stick but I think these sometimes had a sort of stand that held them upright.
Cannot tell what type of material the mask is made of but probably something that is found within a certain village.

There are groups on Facebook that help identify items like this and also groups on Reddit. You can join Reddit and post your pictures as these members usually answer quickly.

Reddit is somewhat difficult for new members but if you have problems you can contact the administrators and ask for help.
www.reddit.com/.../

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April 6, 2021

Is this mask African? Asian? Or derived somewhere else? Thank you

A wooden face mask.
 
A wooden face mask.
 
A wooden face mask.
 

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April 6, 20210 found this helpful

I may be completely wrong but the hat on the mask appears to be a Yao Priest Chinese hat...so maybe the mask is related to that?

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April 22, 2021

I got this mask out of a storage unit and I was hoping you could give me some information about it. It's about the size of a man's torso and weighs about 15-20 lbs.

A large wooden mask.
 
The eye of a wooden mask.
 
A close up of the mouth of a wooden mask.
 
The back of a wooden mask.
 

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February 3, 2020

I would like to know if I could get some info about this mask?

Identifying a Wooden Mask - mask on a chair
 

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Bronze Post Medal for All Time! 105 Posts
February 4, 20201 found this helpful
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Many of these masks are made in Indonesia and they are so many different designs and shapes. I have seen wooden mask like this and they look just like this one. It is hard to say what this mask was used for and there are so many different ones there so it is hard to find out the complete history of this one mask. You can find out the general history of masks from this area if you are interested.

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