The Devil’s Craft: A Mexican Papier-mâché Masterpiece

Ask: I recently purchased this mask at an antique market. The seller informed me that it belonged to a mask collector whose estate was currently being sold. The mask was labeled as Mexican however the seller knew nothing else about it. I purchased this mask as well as one other for $125. The mask appears to be Papier-mâché.


This mask design looks somewhat like the Diablo masks from Nahua people of Temalucatzingo, Guerrero but since it’s Papier-mâché, I’m thinking maybe it’s from Mexico City since there quite a lot of papier-mâché crafts made there.  I’ve also seen papier-mâché Diablo masks from Oaxaca and the Cora people, of Nayarit use papier-mâché as well.

Masks of the Cora People of Nayarit:

The Cora people, also known as Náayarite, primarily reside in the Mexican state of Nayarit and parts of Jalisco. They are known for their detailed and vibrant mask-making traditions, where masks are used as crucial elements in traditional ceremonies, dances, and religious festivals.

One of the key ceremonial events of the Cora is “Judea,” a dramatic representation of the Passion of Christ performed during Holy Week (Semana Santa). In this event, some participants wear masks to portray various characters, including devils or ‘Diablos.’

In Cora tradition, devils are not purely evil, as commonly portrayed in Christian belief, but rather embody moral ambiguity and mischief. Cora devil masks are often carved from wood and painted in vibrant colors, with designs that can range from somewhat realistic to highly stylized or even comical.

I like playful design! If you have any thoughts on where this Diablo mask might be from, please comment below.


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