Early monkey mask from Guatemala

Q: Monkeys masks are very common in Guatemala (and Mexico). They are called “Mono” or “Mico”. This later name concerns a small monkey and makes reference to the spider monkey, ubiquitous in these regions. There are used in various dances, and also in the ceremony of Palo Volador, still performed in Chichicastenango and Joyabaj in the Quiché highlands. The present mask is typical of the Palo Volador in Chichicastenango. Today there are painted with bright colors of black, red and white. The present one dates probably from the mid-XX. It has been painted black and brown. Jean, 1627

A: Jean continues to build a comprehensive collection of authentic Guatemalan masks. These wooden masks have been used since the Spanish invasion, but it is difficult to find any older than this 70 year old example. They usually look European. There are others that show some Mayan influence, but I don’t remember ever seeing one that actually dates back to Pre-Columbian times. If you have, please let us know about it in the comment box. A+

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