• South America

    Bolivian Devil Mask with Lizard

    Q:  This Bolivian mask represents a character from the Diablada known as a “Maligno” or “Demonio.”  It was made in La Paz, but it was probably used in the Oruro carnival.  It’s composed of linen covered in plaster, then painted.  The details such as the lizard on the head are mostly plaster, but there are solid wood anchors for the horns (which are removable).  The eyes are hand-painted glass, and the front teeth are probably sheep’s teeth.  I’m not sure what the eyelashes are made from.  The mask dates to the 1960s.  Aaron, 1121 A:  Once again Aaron shares with us a fine example of traditional masquerade. This is the…

  • South America

    Indian mask from SE Brazil

    Q:  I’m looking for a mask from the Xingu River region.  I’m not sure what I’m looking for specifically, but I would love to see what there is!   Leah, 1102 A:  There are many Indian cultures in the huge Amazon region of Brazil.  Though I can’t find anything from the Xingu River area, this excellent Karajas piece come from the Araguaia River area in the Matto Grosso lowlands just to the west of the Xingu. It is a tall and elaborately decorated ijasó headdress with grass mask and skirt. They are always made in pairs, and represent spirits called by shamans to visit the Karajás’ villages.  Maybe someone who reads…

  • South America

    Recent Amazon Indian masks and costumes

    Q:  Here are some photos of masquerade of the Cocama people in Santo Tomas, Peru. The pics are in the National Geographic that arrived yesterday, so they are recent.  Hans, 1097 A:  I love seeing examples of masks that demonstrate how folk art continues to evolve. I don’t believe that the Cocama people would have made masks and costumes like these 50 years ago. You can read more about this in the January 2017 issue of Nat Geo.

  • South America

    Another Payaso from the mountains of Ecuador

    Q:  I wanted to see if you had any info on this mask.  Joe, 1096 A:  This is all that Joe told me, but his three photos were helpful and I recognized the mask immediately. It is a Payaso (clown) from the Indians of Ecuador. There is a different one shown on our blog archive (category “South America”) that was posted Nov 15, 2016.  Please look it up so you can compare the two, and learn more about how them. This one is crudely made and appears to have been used.  The one in the archives is new and more carefully carved and painted.  A- Save

  • South America

    PreColumbian clay mask, maybe

    Q:  I was recently in Argentina over the holidays and I purchased this mask at a flea market in Buenos Aires. It is about 7 x 6 in and seems to be made from clay. I bought it for about $70. The guy I bought it from said that his “friend” found it in Peru and brought it back. His friend found it in pieces and tried to repair it with the white parts. I have no idea if I got a unique mask or not and I’m hoping that you are able to help me identify it.   Alex, 1086 A:  It does not look Peruvian to me. I…

  • South America

    Diablada mask from Ecuador

    AP PHOTO: Masked devils dance in Ecuadorean mountain town A devil dancer takes part in “La Diablada” festival in Pillaro, Ecuador, Friday, Jan. 6, 2017. Thousands of singing and dancing devils take over a mountain town in Ecuador for six days of revelry in the streets. Herb sent this photo to us today.  I think it’s wonderful that we can see a mask being worn in South America just a day ago. More evidence that masquerade is alive and well around the world.  1085 Save

  • South America

    Ecuador pig mask

    Q:  This is another one of the exciting masks Kathleen discovered in the storage unit contents she won at auction early this year.  As you can see, her three photos of the pig are quite good. Otherwise, the only thing she could tell me was that the pig’s ears were real.  1059 A:  Look at the front, side and rear views of the mask. You can see that it has been used a lot and repainted. Good photography can be so helpful. The Quechua-speaking Indians in the Andes Mountains running through Ecuador have been practicing masquerade for centuries. Their masks are carved out of heavy hardwood and the eye holes…

  • South America

    Black Moreno from La Paz

    My partner, Troy, will be in Bolivia looking for masks in a few weeks. So I thought you might enjoy seeing a very nice example from Aaron’s collection. The character is called “Moreno” and he is paraded in the Senor del Gran Poder festival of the capitol, La Paz. Other cities in Bolivia have somewhat different celebrations, but they all use masks of incredibly fine workmanship, many of which are made of sheet metal like this one. Masquerade in Bolivia is as spectacular as those of the Lenten festivals in Bavaria, the dance dramas of Bali, Japanese Noh theater, and our own Northwest Coast Indians. Let’s all wish Troy well…

  • South America

    Euro-Mexican mask

    Q:  I purchased this mask about 10 years ago from an online auction where it was described as a Mexican “Ranchero” mask. Unfortunately, I don’t remember much more detail from the listing. I was hoping you, or someone who visits your site, might recognize this style of mask, and perhaps identify the region it came from. It’s certainly the work of a highly skilled craftsman. The wood is thick, but very light, and there are four heavy duty staples around the perimeter for straps. The inside is smooth and nicely contoured for comfort. I don’t think it was ever used, but it was definitely made to be worn.  Dan, 1003…

  • South America

    Old Bolivian funeral mask

    Q:  I acquired this silver mask in Bolivia about 30 years ago at a price of ca $100. At the time I was told that it is a funeral mask worn by the living who attended a funeral. Size of the mask is 5,5 by 4,5 inches. Any information that you are able to provide will be greatly appreciated.  Gideon, 1001 A:  At that small size and without eye holes, this is not something to wear. It would appeal to tourists and some collectors. There is a similar, but larger, mask on page 158 of my new book, Masks of the World. It says “this Pre-Columbian mask is 8″ high…