|Q: I purchased this mask in Creel, Mexico in 1989. The unusual thing about this mask is that while the Tarahumarans have always carved masks, I was told it was not common for them to create masks that depicted themselves. The other masks in the shop were all of white men. It is dated and signed. Robin, 1095
A: (Later this was written to Robin.) I forwarded your photograph to a former ASM Curator, Tom Kolaz, who has studied and written about Tarahumara masks for decades.
He says the mask was made by Irmo Armendariz who used to live near Roseachic, Chihuahua. He is not Tarahumara but the area had a lot of Tarahuahua in it. As far as tourist masks go, Irmo’s portrait masks are probably the most life like. They are usually made from madron wood and rubbed with oil. These masks were never made to be used by Tarahumara chapeones in the matachine dances.
This carving is of excellent quality. It would be great to see a photo of the Indian who sat for this portrait. Real Tarahumara masks look much different. See page 115 of Masks of the World by Ibold and Yohn.