• 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.”

  • Guatemala

    Bird mask with big bill

    Q:  A friend of mine is struggling to identify a certain mask. It is a bird with a curved, sharp protruding bill. Any info as to origin would be so very welcome.  Lioda, 872 A:  It’s a bird mask from Guatemala. I have seen hundreds of these over the years and they always were made for the tourist trade.  There is one traditional dance in Guatemala which features a hunter and a lot of different animals, but not  birds.

  • Guatemala

    Mask of Chief Humming Bird

    Q:  This Guatemalan mask looks well used, has multiple layers of paint, and a thick rich patina on the backside. It appears to be a rather unusual mask in that it has elongated, cut-outs over both cheeks…certainly not something I’ve ever seen. But I did find a similar character that represents a very important Mayan chief called Huitzizil Tzunum, which means humming bird. This character is carved in a famous Mayan Stella in the Archaeological site of Copán, Honduras.  Nate, 859 A:  First, I must congratulate you on finding and identifying this old Guatemalan-style mask.

  • Guatemala

    Another great Mystery Mask

    Q: At first glance, I found the front so over dramatized that I assumed it was a tourist piece. Then the cracking/aging paint got my attention that this thing has considerable age. And then finally, I was in shock to see both the amount of patina and craftsmanship of the reverse side.This thing clearly has been danced heavily. The craftsmanship on the back had me initially thinking Japan. However, the tear-drop eyes make me think Korean. This is not a style of an Oni or devil I’ve ever equated to Japan. Ever seen Korean Devils? Can you pin-point this? Nate, 837 A: I don’t where this is from. China, Korea,…

  • Guatemala

    Well known Guatemalan mask

    Q:  I inherited this mask from my grandfather who was an art dealer and collector.  He collected African masks, but I doubt this is one.  He was born in Canada in the late 19th century, but came to settle in Riverside California.  When he married, he and his family lived in Beverly Hills where he had a gallery.  He constantly flew back and forth to Paris collecting and selling lithographs and anything Picasso.  I have no idea where he acquired this mask and how he came to give it me…but I’ve kept it all these years and am curious of its origin.  Is it Guatemalian?  808 A: It is Guatemalan,…

  • Guatemala

    Nicely sculpted Guatemalan mask

    Q:   I have two masks I am interested in selling. These masks were purchased at an estate auction of a diplomat who lived in Alexandria, VA.  I bought them at an antiques shop.  The seller thinks they might be from Mexico, but he is uncertain.  I typically “pick” items for resale on ebay.  I would be interested in purchasing an appraisal for the masks, or I might be interested in selling them to you if you were interested.  Not sure of the best route to take.  Mike, 800 A:  As you know, submitting more than one mask is discouraged on the Mystery Mask blog. So are requests for monetary value.

  • Guatemala

    Classic Guatemalan mask

    Most traditional masks from this little Central American country have four eye holes– two with glass eyeballs staring out of them, and the other two for the dancer to look out of. These masks also appear to have been carved by artists trained in the academic style of the Spanish Renaissance. The folk art of Guatemala’s indigenous people dates back hundreds of years to the conquest and beyond. Some of their dances are rooted in traditions brought from Spanish religious celebrations. Then there are those of Mayan tradition where animal masks are often used in dances like “Toritos” (the Little Bulls), or “El Venado” (the Deer).