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I’ve had this box of Kleenex in my bathroom for a while now, but for some reason when I looked at it today, I saw what looked like an African mask. Do you see it?

I know, you probably think I’m crazy. I have this habit of seeing things around me that remind me of famous images and other artistic things … like Billy The Kid in some sidewalk goo … or a Jackson Pollock in a sunset … so I just seem wired to make these kinds of visual associations. To better explain what I’m seeing in the tissue box above, here’s my thinking explained below.

comparing a Kleenex box to African Masks

At left is a detail of the Kleenex box design. The next two round images show an isolated circle (above) and my own coloring-in of the central elements to show the “eyes” that I’m seeing. Then the group of masks that I think visually relate are – clockwise from top left: a Baluba mask from The Congo; a South African mask, another mask from The Congo, and a West African mask.

Then there’s this other variation that I “see” in the Kleenex box pattern – the top circle is still intact with the “eyes,” but then part of the lower portion of the next circular pattern becomes an enlongated jaw with mouth. Do you see what I’m seeing when placed next to this Bete mask from the Ivory Coast (center), and a Hemba mask (right) from the Congo?

comparing African masks with a decorative pattern

I’m sure the Kleenex box designer had no intention of referencing African masks, but that’s the visual suggestion that this design gave me.