• Mexico

    Mexican mask with pointed cap?

      Q:  I bought this mask at a online auction here in Switzerland. It was declared as antique Tyrolean mask. For me it looked more like Mexican? It is made of very light weight wood and rather small. The size is 43 cm x 14 cm. Thank you very much for your help. Kind regards from Zurich.  David, 1827A: This  mask looks  more  Mexican  to  me  as  well, though I can’t be sure. I haven’t seen a mascara with this kind of cap before. I hope some viewer will make a comment.  

  • Mexico

    Olmec carved stone mask

    The Olmec, whose heartland was located in present-day Mexico from 1200-400 B.C., excelled in creating fine greenstone sculptures. From the middle of the 11th century B.C. to the Spanish Conquest in the 16th century, green and blue colored stones were esteemed across Mesoamerica for their exceptional luster and translucency. The Olmec especially valued the bluish color of this jadeite mask. Jadeite, a rare variety of greenstone, occurs naturally in very few places around the world.  1819 Despite the concave depression, this mask was not made to be worn on the face, at least not by the living. Unlike the earlobes, which feature small holes, neither the eyes nor the mouth…

  • Mexico

    Red Moor mask, E. Central Mexico

    Though faded and dirty, this colorful red Moor mask is a classic. It could be over a 100 years old, or a very well made replica.  Moor masks can also be painted gray, brown or black. The Dance of the Moors and Christians is an important celebration in the states of Veracruz, Hidalgo, Talaxcala and Puebla. The dance arose from the teachings of missionaries as part of an effort to instill respect for and fear of the Spaniards in the indigenous peoples, and to convince them that the victory of Christianity over other faiths—by violence whenever necessary—was inevitable.

  • Mexico

    Catrin mask from Tlaxcala, Mexico

    Tlaxcala is a small state close to the center of Mexico where they have many carnivals with masked dancer called Catrins. The characters portrayed can be male or female, any age or any race. They are also of high quality and often sell to visiting tourists for a lot of money. This black boy mask has been dance a lot. A mush beer gets drunk at the carnivals, which may explain the damage. Newer ones can be magnificence works of art. One of the great things about Mexican masks is that you can find high art and primitive, low art. Better yet, there are all kinds of animals, monsters, gods,…

  • Mexico

    Mask worn on waist

            Q:  Here are the Mexican masks I’ve photographed and cataloged so far. I have many more to do.  Pick any one you want.  Kevin, 1800 A:  I’ll but pick the most unusual one. It is a newly made decorative from Guerrero, Mexico. Some of the dancers in that state impersonate St. James, fish, mermaids, or horses that they wear around their waists as if they’re riding them. Though these strange masks are popular with tourists and mask collectors now, they’ve been danced in Guerrero for hundreds of years.  This one would never be danced. Only a tourist will buy one with the tail of a mermaid…

  • Mexico

    You can collect decoratives

    Q:  This mask was acquired by my wife in Mexico City. I am having difficulties discerning it’s origins. She was told it was from Veracruz, but we are unsure.  David, 1796 A:  Masks with bean pod noses have been made for tourists in Mexico for probably 100 years. So have many other unusual masks. These undesireable masks are called decorativas in Spanish. When I started collecting Mexican masks in the 1980’s I was told to avoid decoratives. Only collect authentic masks– those that were danced in the villages. I followed the rules for at least 10 years, but then began noticing how clever many of the decoratives could be. Often…

  • Mexico

    Pilate mask from Guerrero

    Charles sent these scans along with those of four other masks for an appraisal. I asked if I could post this one with its great beard and moveable jaw. In my opinion it characterizes Pontius Pilate in the Dance of Santiago as celebrated by the Nahua people living in the state of Guerrero, Mexico. Though well used and possibly old, it is still wonderful to behold. I hope Charles will share more information about his valuable piece of folk art in our comments box. Bob, 1774

  • Mexico

    Yaqui clown mask from Mexico

    Q: Just wanted to share this mask that I purchased online last year. I thought you and the folks who appreciate authentic cultural masks would enjoy seeing it. It’s a Yaqui clown or joker mask carved by Preciliano Rodriguez Cupis sometime in the 80’s. The seller provided the following information about the mask: The Mayo Indians are an indigenous group living in the Río Mayo valley in Southern Sonora and the Río Fuerte valley in Northern Sinaloa, Mexico. The pascola is the “old man of the fiesta” that is the literal translation of the Yaqui word Pahko’ola. The ceremony does not start until he enters the ramada and it ends…

  • Mexico

    Oaxacan tigre mask

    Q: I bought this mask at an antique store in Oaxaca de Juarez, Oaxaca, Mexico. The owner told me it was made in Zitlala, Guerrero, but it was used at the carnival in Penotepa Nacional, Oaxaca. He did not know how old it is, but that it was ‘very’ old. (perhaps the condition of the leather on the back offers some very rough terminus ante quem. It still has the whisker and eyebrow hair made from the bristle of wild javelina. I want to get it restored somehow but don’t know where to go (I’m currently in Mexico and will likely take it back with me to New York.) I…

  • Mexico

    Famous old Mexican tourist mask

    Q: Is my silver-plated copper mask as old as it looks? I noticed that when I tried it on and rested my chin on the chin piece, that my nose actually fitted the opening and eyes lined up perfectly. So perhaps it was actually made to be worn? Great earrings hanging cone shaped flowers with stamens inside the flowers and edge of petals gently turned back. One earring is detached and needs to be soldiered back on again. Charles, 1764 A: Some books on Mexican masks say this was used in the “Rain-petitioning dance” in parts of rural Guerrero. These large, flat masks are called Barbones (bearded old men). Made…