An Unusual 19thC Painted Tribal Mask

Origin: Congolese or Himalayan
Period: Mid/Late Nineteenth Century
Provenance: Unknown
Date: c.1860-90
Height: 11.5 inches
Width: 7 inches

The unusual nineteenth century painted mask with mouth and eye cavities, pierced holes to edges and applied dot decoration in buff and ochre survives from possibly from the Congo or the Himalayan area.

The mask has expected wear to its paintwork, heavy in some places making it very decorative. The unusual alternate spots are all still quite clear. There are some losses to the teeth and some chipping to the edges and extremities whilst the whole has a beautiful patination. We have given the mask a light wax.

Throughout the world masks are used for their expressive power as a feature of masked performance - both ritually and in various theatre traditions. A familiar and vivid element in many folk and traditional pageants, ceremonies, rituals and festivals, masks are often of an ancient origin. Masks are used almost universally and maintain their power and mystery both for their wearers and their audience.

We are not certain of the origin of this mask and after a period of research we cannot find another like it though our most educated guess is that it is of Congolese or Himalayan origin. It is certainly nineteenth century.

An unusual, intriguing, and possibly rare example of a tribal mask, and a very decorative one at that.