Worldwide tribal masks are among the best-known features of African culture. If you own any of these ethnic works of art, have them appraised: you could be in possession of a hidden treasure!

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African masks: from local tradition to global renown

African masks are fascinating cultural artifacts which have played an important role in international art history. However, their original purpose was essentially local, linked to ceremonial and ritual use.

Each African mask bears the history, tradition and sacred ideals of the community from which it originates. Tribal masks come in a wide range of materials, from wood (the most common) to fabrics, metal and plant fibers. They are usually adorned with natural pigments, shells or beads.

The decoration of ethnic masks is most often characterized by geometric shapes, abstract motifs and stylized representations of animals, spirits or ancestors. Their powerful symbolism and boldness of form inspired modern artists, such as Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse.

Today, masks from Africa remain the best ambassadors of tribal art, and enjoy prominent display in museums and art galleries alike.

Unmask the true value of your African masks

The diversity of tribal masks, as well as their stylistic and cultural individuality, make it essential to call in an expert if you want to know their value. Only a specialist can tell the difference between a Dan mask and a Baule, Fang or Gouro mask.

Professional appraisal of African masks begins with the contextualization of their creation. The appraiser will situate them geographically and chronologically, providing you with a wealth of information on their origins and history. Of course, this identification is accompanied by an authentication.

Your African art specialist will then study the mask’s aesthetic qualities, as well as its state of repair. Among other things, he will note the finesse of the details and the precision of their execution. He will also check whether the mask in question has already undergone restoration.

However, that is not sufficient to determine the monetary value, which depends on supply and demand in the art market. By considering the market too, your specialist can reveal the true value of your African mask. All the information is compiled in a file, giving you a detailed history of the objects in your tribal art collection.


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