Battle of the Tigres

Zitlala, Guerrero
Zitlala, Guerrero

Q: This is a mask I got in Guerrero, Mexico some years ago.  I believe it is “vintage,” because I don’t think they make them out of leather anymore.  I was told it’s a jaguar for a jaguar dance.  It’s leather that has been colored in a dark turquoise color, has mirrors for eyes, and projecting whiskers (not sure whether they are organic hair or synthetic) – aprox 6 in. tall.  Deborah, 747

A:  Called a Tigre mask all over Mexico, this one is from Zitlala, Guerro, where they have a special celebration in May where gangs from different barrios in town put on these heavy leather helmets and fight each other with wood sticks.

I’m told it can get pretty rough. Each gang has its own special color. Most of the masks I’ve seen are yellow (like a real jaguar) or green, but this one is blue and is from my collection. I didn’t use yours because it is very small and made to be a souvenir. The one pictured is the real thing.

Tigre is Mexican slang for jaguar. The species is no longer found in any part of that country.

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