Armadillo mask from Oaxaca, Mexico

Q:  Here are the masks. They were purchased at a garage sale in British Columbia, Canada, but they don’t look like local native art at all. The wood and materials used are unfamiliar to me, particularly the shell used on the top & bottom of one. The fur, hair & whiskers seem to be real but I’m not sure of their origin. There were about 8 in a box at a “collectibles” garage sale & when I asked about the origin they only knew that they came from a man who had collected them. I have tried to ID the currency but can’t. Since they have price tags they may have been made for a tourist market somewhere.  Elin, 1241

A:  Both of the masks you sent were carved by the same guy in Tehuantepec, Oaxaca. He would be a Huave Indian who is native to the area. They use lots of local materials starting with unpainted wood, armadillo shell, and different animal fur and hair. They are still used in dance, but most are made for tourists to take home as souvenirs. Mexican masks from other places are more carefully carved and painted giving them a less primitive look.  B

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