Yaqui clown mask from Mexico

Q: Just wanted to share this mask that I purchased online last year. I thought you and the folks who appreciate authentic cultural masks would enjoy seeing it. It’s a Yaqui clown or joker mask carved by Preciliano Rodriguez Cupis sometime in the 80’s. The seller provided the following information about the mask: The Mayo Indians are an indigenous group living in the Río Mayo valley in Southern Sonora and the Río Fuerte valley in Northern Sinaloa, Mexico. The pascola is the “old man of the fiesta” that is the literal translation of the Yaqui word Pahko’ola. The ceremony does not start until he enters the ramada and it ends with him giving a closing “sermon.”

The hair depicts the old man, but ironically the Yaquis/Mayos like most indigenous men in N. America do
not have much facial hair. As with many Mexican and Guatemalan traditions, the Mayo’s are depicting the hairy Europeans that conquered the area a few hundred years before. The masks that have been produced in this region
usually depict males with a goat or horse hair beard and long eyebrows which cover the face.

This rare Mayo Pascola mask was skillfully carved, with long tufts of goat-hair, and painted with a thick polychrome paint. The mask is 7 inches tall x 5 inches wide (not including goat hair). Dan

A: Though folk art is slowly disappearing as people around the world slowly move to the cities, there are plenty of villages that practice masquerade today. Like Dan, you can purchase authentic masks that are intended for use in the village celebrations. There are even used masks to be found. But always remember that most sellers are lying when the tell you that the mask is old and used. Don’t pay over $100 for a mask unless you really love it. A

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