|Q: Would love your perspective on “Fish Man,” who joined our family’s collection of Guerrero, Mexico dance masks awhile back. How common are these full trajes and might you know the specific folklore behind this particular character? Ashley, 1467
A: The state of Guerrero has about 4 million people, most of whom are indigenous. They all have rich cultures that include many different masked dances. The state also has a large tourist industry which has always made masks for the trade. These decorative masks are very popular in Acapulco and the rest of the world. Most are okay as souvenirs, and a few can be very creative. Yours is the latter.
Decorative masks from Guerrero have no ethnographic significance. Sometimes the sellers have interesting stories to tell, but they have little to do with cultural traditions and are not really dance masks. In my opinion, your piece is a spectacular wall sculpture. I’d like to have it on my walls… but I’ve been collecting for 40 years and have run out of space. C
You can see several Fish (or Mermaid masks) in “Mexican Masks” by Donald Cordry. He was a sucker for expensive fakes. I like some Mexican fakes, but don’t pay much for them.