• 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…

  • 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!