• Guatemala

    Another New World Devil Mask

    Q:  I’ve had this mask in my collection for quite some time now. I found it at a local antique shop for $60.The mask itself measures about 9.5 inches excluding the length of the horns. The horns have been nailed on the mask, and look like real goat horns.I have always believed it to be some kind of hand carved Diablo mask judging by the inside of it. What do you think?  Blake, 1170 A:  Your mask is a Diablo (Devil) from the state of Totonicapan in WestCentral Guatemala. On pages 252-5 of Guatemala’s Masks & Drama by Jim Pieper you can see several of them and read the story…

  • Guatemala

    Guatemala is the place for masks

    This photo was taken at a museum in Guatemala City. The featured mask (with costume) is for the Deer Dance. The ones on the wall come from different dances. Shops will rent masks and costumes to the locals for an affordable price. They’re called morerias. This small country takes masquerade very seriously. There are many unique masks for tourists and collectors to enjoy. In my book, Masks of the World, I devote a whole chapter to this special part of the world. Save

  • Guatemala

    Devil mask from Guatemala

     Q:  I know that this mask is at least 55 years old. My mother bought it sometime around 55 or 60 years ago.  I do not know if it was new or used when she purchased it. Was wondering approximate value and where from, although it is not for sale.  Pat, 1114 A:  Devil masks have been gaining popularity in Guatemalan dances ever since Catholic priests started introducing them hundreds of years ago. Hanging out with with the dreaded coral snake would be a Mayan addition. This mask has glass eyes, snakes and wood horns that can be removed. It was made for sale to tourists. If it was for…

  • Guatemala

    Pretty cool Guatemalan mask

    Q:   I have 2 mystery masks. Here is the first one. Paid $18 for a antique extravaganza. Could it be from Guatemala? Mexico? It’s pretty cool.  Gena, 1100 A:  I picked this one to post. Indeed it is a cool mask. Even though a cheaply made commercial product, it looks so Guatemalan. You know instantly it could come from nowhere other than the mountains of Central America. Of course, most serious collectors don’t want “tourist junk” on their walls.  Perhaps some collectors would be revolted by this guy (especially anthropologists), but I think the mask is a keeper!   C Save Save

  • Guatemala

    The evolution of masquerade in Guatemala

    Most of the world’s folk art continues to evolve. I asked Aaron about the way Guatemalan masks have changed over the last 35 years. Here is what he said. If anything dramatically illustrates the changing traditions, I’d say it was the convites masks.  The convite tradition goes back to medieval Europe and represents a relatively popular celebration of a local saint.  I say “popular” in contrast to other dances, which typically involve heavily rehearsed dances by persons who spend quite a lot on buying or renting costumes from a morería.  The elaborate costumes and masks for the Baile del Torito or Baile de la Conquista, for example, cost about 3…

  • Guatemala

    Mask, hat and costume from Guatemala

    Attached is a zip file with photos of the masks I bought in Guatemala, plus one other.  It’ll take me a while longer to work up all the photos of the masked dances themselves. Basically, here is what you want for the blog.  Moro mask and pasqualillo costume from Chichicastenango, probably dating to the 1950s.  Aaron, 1076 Like most collectors, Aaron focuses on masks. The hat, suit and accessories are also important, but they cost extra, often need cleaning or repair, and are difficult to display. Thankfully, he occasionally goes to the trouble. Wouldn’t you love to see this complete costume in the masquerade?   Bob

  • Guatemala

    Report from Guatemala

    This 50-year-old Pastor mask has been used many times for the Baile de los Pastores in the southwest Guatemala. It’s a rare character in bright red that introduces Chapter 10 of Masks of the World, written by me and Troy Yohn. It’s an excuse to post an exciting report that Aaron sent in today about his travels.   Bob, 1072   Hey, Bob, I hope you are well and enjoying the pre-holiday season. I am still in Guatemala, but I thought you’d like to hear about my masking adventures, which will end in 24 hours.   In Antigua Guatemala, the tourist capital of the country, I found an antique dealer who…

  • Guatemala

    Sad Tecun Uman mask

    Q:  This mask with a mustache is made from a very heavy type of wood and has two glass eyes. It is almost 9 inches long and 7 1/4 wide. If it interests you to post, feel free to include it on your site.  Glenn, 1066 A:  Tecun Uman is the famous leader of the Mayan army that almost defeated the Spanish conquerors.  General Pedro Alvarado killed him in combat. Wikipedia describes him briefly, but there is much more. If you go to Categories/Guatemala on the right and scroll down to #808 you’ll see a much different version. Neither of these carvings are particularly good, but Tecun Uman would be…

  • Guatemala,  Mexico

    A swinger from South of the border

    Q:  Found this today at a barn sale in Pennsylvania and was wondering if it’s a carnival mask?  Central America?  Not a collector, just couldn’t leave it behind.  8 inches high and 6 inches across.  Thanks.  Terence, 1032 A:  It is a carnival mask from somewhere in Mexico, or maybe Guatemala. But more importantly, it is old, well used, yet still in good condition. I get a special kick out the cigarette hole which clearly has been used. I’ve also heard of booze being poured down holes like this. Mexican and Central American carnivals can get pretty rowdy. I think you have a nice cultural artifact.  A Save Save

  • Guatemala

    Repro of Guatemalan Jaguar mask

    Q:  Can you give me a little more information on the attached mask. Value, type, origins.  Laurie, 1005 A:  Jaguars are a character in several traditional dances performed by indigenous Guatemalans, who are decedents of the Maya. This example is well carved and nicely painted. However, it was made to be sold, either to tourists or exporters. This lowers the mask’s value.  C+ The good news is that people with limited budgets can find excellent reproductions of traditional dance masks at tourist shops and on eBay, enabling them to assemble collections that are almost as beautiful as those in museums.