• 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.  

  • Guatemala

    Very old Guatemalan mask

    Q:  I do collect African masks but recently bought a collection of seven which I believe are old Guatemalan. I have two of the smaller – I’m sending images of one. It must have a dozen layers of paint. These 7 masks I’ve just acquired are the most interesting to me at the moment. If you are interested in seeing the other new masks or any of my African collection just let me know! Appreciative of your consideration,  Arthur, 962 A:  This doesn’t happen to me often enough– a rare old mask that serious collectors would love to own can be pictured on this blog. It could be a vaquero,…

  • Guatemala

    Guatemalan bull mask

    Q:  Torito con cascabel is the Spanish name for this. This was one of my father’s favorite masks. Cascabel in Spanish means a little round bell with a pellet inside, like what we would call a jingle bell. He said the big tongue was special. (not sure why!)  Joan, 943 A:   This is one of the nicer Torito masks I have seen, even though one of the bells is missing. It appears to have been used a lot, repaired, and repainted.  The colors are quite unusual and very eye-catching. Bull masks are always in the Toritos Dance, as well as the Patzcar Dance and a few others. We see a…

  • Guatemala

    Typical Guatemalan mask

    Here is a nice Cristiano mask from the Dance of the Christians and Moors. It comes from Rabinal in central Guatemala. It represents a European man who has recently shaved. The Mayan people have a rich tradition of masquerade that is strongly influenced by Spanish classical art. This mask is part of Aaron’s collection. You can see more by looking for “Guatemala” in the Categories column to the right. Our go to pages 137-145 of our new book Masks of the World. And there are many other books that are entirely about Guatemalan masks.

  • Guatemala

    Guacamaya character from Guatemala

    Q:  Here is a rare mask of the central figure in the Guacamaya dance in Guatemala.  Jon, 897 A:  I love the look of this mask, even if it is a little rough. Here is what Jim Pieper has to say in his book Guatemala’s Masks & Drama,  “The Guacamaya is a very old dance, which is possibly pre-conquest, with little documentation. It tells the tale of a Mayan king who was turned into a parrot. This dance uses some of the largest carved masks in Mesoamerica. The dance is performed in May in Santa Cruz, Alta Verapaz.”