• 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.”

  • 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,…