• Guatemala

    Unusual Maximon mask from Guatemala

    Q:  Here is a very unusual mask from Guatemala, probably from the 60-70’s. It is said to have been used in the Dance of “Los Viejitos” (Baile Xetones) in San Juan Chamelco, Alta Verapaz. But I do not find any similar masks on the web or in the books. Did you see such a mask before?  Jean,  1482 A:  The seller may be right. But I’m thinking it could be a Maximon (also called San Simon) mask. Most of the Maximon faces we see are the top part of doll-like statues that can range in size from small to the size of an adult man. They are icons placed in an…

  • Guatemala

    Excellent 100 yr-old mask

    Q:  Here is a small mask (6” height) of a “Cristiano”, with interesting moreria burns on the back. On the right side we see  “ɛT”, the mark of Eugenio Tistoj (1855-1930), owner of the well-known moreria in Totonicapán, and on the left side a combination of “ATP”, the mark of Pedro Antonio Tistoj (1912-1978), son of Eugenio Tistoj, owner of the moreria after his father. These marks, together with the beautiful patina, allow to date the mask from the very early XXth century. As Jim Pieper reports in his book “Guatemala’s masks and dramas”, there are presently 2 morerias in Totonicapàn with the name Tistoj, both descendants of Eugenio Tistoj,…

  • Guatemala

    Guatemalan Jaguar mask

    Q:  I have a picture of mask that was purchased out of country and need origin and value. Can I send a picture? It’s a set of two. Please email me.  Tammy, 1457 A:  This exciting mask portrays a jaguar (or tigre in Spanish) that is a character in several Guatemalan dances. These beautiful cats were once the top predator in Mexico all the way down to Argentina. Today they survive in only a few remote forest. How sad it is.  Sorry, we only do one mask per person, per month. Nor do we appraise for free. Instead, we often end the answer with a letter grade.  B

  • Guatemala

    Here is an authentic Guatemalan mask

    Q:  Here is a nice example of the “Torito” mask from Rabinal, Baja Verapaz, Guatemala. The presence of the scorpion between the horns is frequent, but the design of this one is of exceptional quality. Old repairs can be well seen on the back. Leather ears. From the 50-60s.   Jean, 1450 A: You have sent beautiful photos of one of the better Guatemalan toritos I have seen… at least in quite awhile. Years ago there were morerias that made masks, usually of Spanish characters, that could have been carved by Michelangelo. This high degree of excellence applied to other mask characters as well. The quality of carving in Guatemala has…

  • Guatemala

    Should I buy this mask?

    Q:  What do you think about this mask, which is proposed to me for sale? It looks very nice, but I wonder if it is really as old as it is announced to be (early 20th)?  Jean, 1412 A:  Hope I’m not to late in answering you. Do buy it if you think the price is right. It is old and used. More over, it is well carved and very attractive.The number on the rear would have been carved at a morreria (costume shop). Very collectible. For those who aren’t familiar with this Guatemalan mask, it could represent either a Moro or a Vaquero in several different dances. There are…

  • Guatemala

    Repainted Guatemalan mask

    Q:  Attached is an unusual Guatemalan mask of a Cristiano from the dance of the Moors and Christians in Coban, Alta Verapaz.  It looks quite similar to the yellow one posted on your site some years ago (7.4.2015), except the color is different.  Jean, 1410 A:  Please go to the Guatemalan category so you can see the yellow mask Jean is referring to. Both masks are similar. Jean’s mask is a better carving. When you look at the rear you know that it is old, used, and more recently painted red over the original yellow so it can be used as a Moor in the dance. Morrerias (rental shops) will…

  • Guatemala

    “Mexican” Guatemalan dance mask

    Q:  I found this mask at a Goodwill for $7.99 along with two other similar wooden masks, though this one is the  most interesting to me. It is carved wood and looks like it has glass eyes. It looks like there might have been fake eyelashes attached at one point, but they are gone now. The teeth look like they have some sort of plastic covering over them. It is roughly 9 inches long and 7 inches wide. It has the initials J.T.S. on the back.  Kelley, 1394 A:  The Mask Man is so happy when someone finds a desirable masks. It doesn’t happen very often! This is a “Mexican”…

  • Guatemala

    Old or fake?

    Q:  Here is another Guatemalan mask, a conquistador, told to be from early 20th, from an old collection in LA. No trace of paint. Seems to be a nice patina on the back… but I wonder if this piece was waxed  to give this brown uniform patina. Your impression would be really welcome.  Jean, 1388 A:  This classic mask could also be a Moor or some other character. Sometimes masks like this are repainted to be a different character if the morreria* is running out. The big question would be its authenticity. It does not have a morreria mark or any signs of paint. Also, I think the carving is…

  • Guatemala

    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…

  • Guatemala

    Rare 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. PS… Do you think it could represent Pedro Portocarrero ?  Jean, 1384 A:  With a little more research you got it right. Pedro Portocarrero was one of the key officers in Pedro de Alvarado’s Spanish army that fought the Mayans. Portocarrero is sometimes danced in the Baile de la Conquista. We rarely see masks portraying this particular character. More importantly, we don’t see Guatemalan masks that are both old and used any more. Most of…