As an avid collector for many years of cultural art, I have amassed a good number of tribal masks and statues as well as other artifacts. (OK, admittedly a large number.)
1. Multiple masks3
Acquiring cultural art from different societies provides more than aesthetic mementos of my travels. It offers insight into unfamiliar traditions, beliefs and behaviors. Masks are a unique form. Extraordinarily varied, most have a spiritual and ceremonial purpose and the designs represent complex, deep-rooted belief systems. A single piece may provide a vehicle for communication with ancestors; portray significant mythical events, or protect against evil.The masks and statues on my walls, shelves, counter-tops and every possible floor location are a daily reminder of the vastness of cultural differences in our world as well as common threads. (At least, that’s my justification for lugging home oversized masks from Nepal, Bhutan, Papua New Guinea, British Columbia and various African nations and I’m sticking to it.)



A few stories:


8. GaneshWhy Ganesh has the Head of an Elephant

The pantheon of masks and statues in Buddhism and Hinduism is extensive and a good number are revered by both religions – e.g. Ganesh, a highly popular deity who is known as the Remover of Obstacles. There are multiple stories of why Ganesh has the head of an elephant. All tell of his Hindu father Lord Shiva beheading him in a fit of anger- although circumstances vary in different versions. In remorse, Shiva sent his warriors out to get a head from another live being. Some narratives recount that they were instructed to claim the head of the first animal they found sleeping. I prefer the version in which animals were asked to sacrifice their heads and only the elephant volunteered.


9. PNG carving Michael Timbin-bestCreation Stories from Papua New Guinea.

The small villages along the Sepik River in Papua New Guinea are home to world-renowned carvers, many of whom use their skills to depict their community’s unique version of creation. The details of these myths are sacred and held secret, but traditional symbols include a woman, a crocodile, a snake and a bir
d. My wonderful statue by master carver Michael Timbin and figurine by James Tandan Wanjara are fascinating examples.

11. Crocodile carrying woman -Sepik River

Mexican Folklore Masks Mock Conquerors

12. Mexican ceremonal maskWhen the conquistadores claimed Mexico for Spain, one of their first objectives was to destroy indigenous religions. Their efforts to stamp out mask dancing failed, so priests recommended that the ceremonies could continue if Christian values were incorporated. Evil masks were to be reconstituted to depict the devil. Villagers willingly obliged and created horrific masks that they assured their conquerors represented Satan. In fact, the entire tribal community knew that the gruesome faces symbolized the Spanish.



Have I stopped collecting despite clearly being space-challenged?

NO – and I head to Nepal in October. Not only is it predictable that I will be tempted to add to my collection, I have yet to bring a group – even a group of alleged non-shoppers – who could resist making purchases in Kathmandu. The craftsmanship is superb and prices are low. Why not see for yourself! The Nepalese are warm and welcoming and travelling there this year will not only help them continue to recover from last year’s earthquakes, it can be a life changing journey for you.

2. multiple statues2

Please consider joining me this October. Send me a quick email to and I’ll provide details and irresistible pricing.