Q: Nathan D. suggested that I contact you regarding the pair of masks that I bought from a well known financier’s estate. He purchased them from a gallery in NYC in the late 70’s. I was told by his son that they are “Mexican Death Masks”, but everyone that I have shown them to, has no idea what they are and has never seen anything like them. I am an African art collector but was so fascinated by them that I had to have them. They are constructed of hand painted thick, leather, genuine goat horns and goat hair, I believe. The insides of the masks are woven. The black mask has clear glass circles over hand painted leather “eyes” and has slits for viewing. The white one only has slits. Anything that you can tell me regarding age, authenticity and region of origin, would be so appreciated. Laura, 686
A: These are devil masks for the Pastorela drama in the state of Jalisco in west-central Mexico. You won’t find masks like this any where else in the world. They appear to be at least 30 inches high (typical size) and they certainly look great in your living room. Authentic examples of this style of mask are something any serious collector of Mexican masks would love to have. There is an easy-to-obtain book by Barbara Mauldin called Masks of Mexico in which the chapter on Jalisco shows a picture of your mask. I love it when someone sends in a museum-quality mask.