Here’s my deal with masks. I’ve always had a few hanging around. Literally. On my walls. I was never a serious collector, but I have a few examples of masks from Mexico, Indonesia and Africa that I’ve carried with me for a few moves. And I have/had even more to sell in the Earnestine Etsy shop. But most of the masks I’ve acquired are of the “made for tourists” variety.
And I always had a few examples of wood carving from Africa. That interest came about because my Uncle Eric went to Côte d’Ivoire and brought my Grandmother a bust of a (topless) lady. My grandma kept it in her parlour, covered in a t-shirt. Then she gave it to my Aunt Nance who gave it to me.
Every time I find something, it sends me down a rabbit hole of research. Then I learn something p about the styles of different cultural traditions of the many different nations of the continent of Africa which only makes me want to find examples of different things.
Long story short, there was a guy trading these masks on Bunz. There were five, and two were definitely tourist pieces from Latin America. But these three, I was told, were from Tanzania (top two photos) and Zambia. A dealer I showed them to says that he thinks they were made for traditional dances because the holes drilled around the faces indicate that they would have been attached to a hood or headpiece. Plus there are stains on the inside that would have been caused by skin oils touching the wood.
He offered one caveat: these are details that are often faked to make fakes look more authentic.
.Anyway, I think I’ve been able to get a bit more information about these masks. The bottom one is most likely a Pwo mask by a Chokwe artisan. These masks are made to honour female ancestors and are created for celebrations that mark the completion of initiation into adulthood.
The top two masks were probably made for similar ceremonies. They guy I Bunz traded with said they were called Locust Spirit Masks and when I googled that I learned that in many African nations, they were worn by young men in an initiation dance and in times of drought — you know, to protect against locusts. That’s all the info I’ve got so far.