More common Guatemalan mask

Q:  Could you give me your opinion on this mask from Guatemala? I guess it could be an Alvarado? But I really wonder if it is “old” or just a tourist fake, artificially aged.  Jean, 1384

A:  This Pedro de Alvarado mask is popular with dancers and collectors. Many of them are reproductions that have been made to look old. This one has been skillfully aged with tinted varnish applications, rubbing, distressing, and probably a few other tricks. And always look at the back. There are no signs of wear. I’m glad that Jean broke my rule of one mask per month. If you look at the previous mask you can see the difference between authentic and reproduction. Is this obvious? If not, use the comments box to ask for more, or identify some of the additional details faking you can detect.  B


  • Jean

    Thank you Bob,
    Your comment confirms my feeling about this mask. The front seems really damaged by the years which should mean that this mask was used and manipulated a lot over time. But this is in total contrast with the lack of significant signs of use or patina on the back side….

  • Bob Ibold

    Jean wrote this: Thanks you so much for your opinion about these 2 masks. I am glad it confirms what I thought. I was really uncomfortable with the Alvarado, despite its “very old” look, and too much damaged in the front while no clear signs of patina or use in the back…contrasting. But you consider it anyway as “collectible”, although it is artificially aged !?

    My answer: Accurate reproductions of traditional masks can look great in a collection, and they are readily available. But don’t pay too much for them!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

I accept the Privacy Policy