• 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…

  • Guatemala

    Guatemalan monkey mask

    Don’s mask of The Mexican from a Guatemalan dance inspired me to share this picture with you of The Monkey. There are lots of different animal masks used in the popular Deer Dance. Best liked by tourists and collectors is the monkey character. This one is old and used. Newer ones are usually painted in bright black, white and red, with no golden hair. This little country practices masquerade a lot. As you can see on the list to the right, a separate category is devoted to Guatemala.

  • Guatemala

    The Mexican Guatemalan mask

    Q:  I recently picked up this mask. I think it is Guatemalan. It appears to be Pedro Alvarado. I am wondering if this may be the case. Any information would be helpful regarding this mask.Thank you,  Don, 1352 A:  You are close, but it is The Mexican, not Alvarado. You can learn about either character by going to Google. Here’s the good news. Your mask might be authentic. Most of the masks sent to me are usually reproductions or cheap tourist junk. For the latter I try to write a nice reply, but I don’t post it. A  

  • Guatemala

    Old Guatemalan mask

    Here is an old conquistador dance mask that hasn’t been used a lot. Expressively carved from hardwood, the eyebrows, eyelashes, hair and upper lip show remnants of black paint, while the teeth have traces of white. His wavy side-parted hair and long sideburns were characteristic of the Spaniards depicted in these dances. His glass eyes are now missing. There is no morreria mark that I can see. I still like it!

  • Guatemala

    Another Pedro Alvarado

    Q:  I am cleaning out my father’s home/estate and he had several masks (mostly Mexican). I believe a few are antique and at least one may be pretty valuable. I have attached pictures below and can follow-up with more pictures if you would like to see them. I am mostly curious about this one that I think is over 100 years old.  Laura, 1325 A:  What a coincidence. The same character comes in a day later. Laura’s Alvarado is a  tourist mask that has been artificially aged, where as, yesterday’s is authentic.The biggest difference would be the quick carving and black paint on the rear of today’s. Neither of these…

  • Guatemala

    Popular mask of Pedro Alvarado

    This is a favorite character in one of the most important dances performed in the hills of Guatemala. Heavily influenced by Western classical sculpture, the carvers, who are ethnic Mayans, make sculptures as if they were trained in the finest art schools of Europe. Unfortunately the quality of Guatemalan carving has gone down in recent years. If you go to the Guatemalan section of “Categories” you can see other examples of this kind of carving, both recent and older. I would give this mask an A- .Read more about Avarado, the famous Spanish general.    

  • Guatemala

    Repro of Patron mask from Guatemala

      Q:  I recently bought this mask and I would like to know if it’s authentic or if you would know anything more about it. The seller said it was a dance mask from Chichicastenango, Guatemala from the 1950s-1960s. The mask measures roughly 7” in length and 5” in width. Any help would be appreciated. Daniel, 1265   A:  Here’s what Aaron has to say about a similar mask that is authentic. This is one is not, but it certainly looks like the real thing. B SUBREGION: Nahualá ETHNICITY: Mayan DESCRIPTION: Patrón Mask MAKER: Unknown CEREMONY: Danza del Patzcar AGE: 1980s MAIN MATERIAL: wood OTHER MATERIALS: oil-based paint; leather The Danza…