Be careful about Mexican decoratives

Q: Here is the picture of the Mexican mask I would like to get a quote for an appraisal. My deceased friend brought it to the US back in the late 70’s even though it was forbidden. She lived in Mexico City and she told me it was made in mountains for a ceremony. It is about 3 feet tall and about 1 foot wide. Very light weight and it has glass eyes. This is the only thing I know about it. Carla, 1557

A: Somewhere in the state of Guerrero they have been making these large, bearded masks to sell to rich tourists for many years. They are well carved and quite handsome.

Here’s the problem. The sellers almost always tell the gringos that the Barbones (bearded one) is very old, used and valuable. Though it will look great on a steel stand somewhere in your house, it is not going to be worth what your friend probably paid for it.

The Mexicans call these masks decorativas. I think the name is more appropriate than fake. And yes, some Mexican decoratives can cost over $100.


  • Bob Ibold

    Carla just wrote me this message…

    Good. This makes me feel better. Since her death in 1999 I thought the mask should go back to the people of Mexican because that is what she wanted because she was told it was not allowed to take out ceremonial masks and she always felt guilty that she stole one of their pieces of culture. The mask was given to her by a friend. Relief knowing this.

  • Brian McLaughlin

    Hello I bought a mask that is very similar to this one and I hung this in my sons room. I am looking for other masks that have long beards like your mask. I thought it would be something we could collect together. Please let me know if you still have this mask and if you would be willing to sell your mask. Send me your information and I will send you a picture of my mask that I bought in a lot of 6 masks that sold at Auction in Chicago.

    Thanks Brian

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