South America

This is a South American mask

Q:  This mask was advertised on eBay as Mexican, but at 7 1/2″ wide & 11 1/2″ long, it is larger than most Mexican masks and made of a heavier wood.  Maybe it’s a Latin American carnival mask or even an African mask.  It fits the face perfectly but has no holes on the side to secure it to the face.  I paid about $160.  The paint looks vintage.  Alicia, 1433

A:  Your mask is from Ecuador. The hard wood and large, round eye holes make them easy to identify. It is made by the Quechua speaking Indians who live in the northern most parts of the Andes. This one could have been made for performance and used once or twice, or simply a money-maker to sell to tourists. Either way, it is a nice example of the region’s folk art.

This character is the smiling, black-faced Mama Negra, a character that blends traditions of the Spanish Colonists with indigenous Ecuadorian Indians. She is at once the Virgin Mary and the Pachamama, the mother earth figure sacred to all Quechua. She is celebrated at an annual festivals in the Cotopaxi area and other mountain regions. Besides Mama Negra there are characters called the clown (Payaso), the Devil, several different animals and more. You can check out more Ecuadorian masks by going to the South America category on the right side.  B+


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