South America

Jaguar mask from the Chiriguanos

Q:  I purchased this mask at a flea market in San Francisco a while back. The seller didn’t know anything about it but he only charged me $20. It seems to be made from a light weight wood and measures almost 11″ tall 9″ wide and almost 10″ deep. I would love to know where this is from. Dustin, 1201

A:  The Encyclopedia Britanica says… “Chiriguano, (pejorative), also called Guaraní, Guaraní-speaking South American Indians living in the Bolivian foothills of the eastern Andes and in Argentina. They are linguistically and culturally related to the Tupí-Guaraní horticulturists living throughout the tropical rain forests of the Amazon basin.”

The book, Masks of the World, by Ibold and Yohn, shows a similar mask on page 164 and says… “This wonderfully stylized fox has been carved by the Chiriguanos Indians of Paraguay.” The Jaguar mask probably comes from the same carver, wherever his village might be. These masks are highly creative and well carved. Note how the wearer can look through the animals open mouth. You got a great deal!  B+




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