Mexican decorative masks, collectible or not?

Q:   I have a mask bought in Mexico (Playa del Carmen) from a collector for ~$60 CAD. The mask is made of wood and has goat horns. The seller claimed it was used by a dancer but I cannot remember where. It has holes on the back that appear to be for wearing. I am wondering what you think of this mask, and I am unsure where it would be from. If you have anything else to say about this mask I’d be happy to hear it, its my first and only mask in my collection so far.  Trevor, 1492

A:  Your mask is called a decorative. It is a devil, probably made in the state of Guerrero. That means it was not for villagers to wear in their traditional dances, but for tourists and collectors. Most of the time they are antiqued after being painted to make them look old. You shouldn’t pay much for them, but they are fun to collect.

Mexican decoratives can be very interesting. Unlike the fake masks from other parts of the world, they can be better looking than the authentic mask that inspired the carver, or better yet, highly inventive. Three examples of the former are show on this blog. Also check an earlier blog about devil masks posted November 18th.

Trevor, as a beginning collector you might want to consider buying only decoratives. They should be readily available and low in price. I have quite a few in my personal collection.  C+


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