Guatemala

Excellent 100 yr-old mask

Q:  Here is a small mask (6” height) of a “Cristiano”, with interesting moreria burns on the back. On the right side we see  “ɛT”, the mark of Eugenio Tistoj (1855-1930), owner of the well-known moreria in Totonicapán, and on the left side a combination of “ATP”, the mark of Pedro Antonio Tistoj (1912-1978), son of Eugenio Tistoj, owner of the moreria after his father. These marks, together with the beautiful patina, allow to date the mask from the very early XXth century. As Jim Pieper reports in his book “Guatemala’s masks and dramas”, there are presently 2 morerias in Totonicapàn with the name Tistoj, both descendants of Eugenio Tistoj, their great grandfather. It is not that usual to see such interesting old burnings on a mask nowadays.   Jean, 1468

A:  It’s nice that Jean was willing to share this mask with us. He knows a lot about Guatemala. All I want to add is the importance of the moreria mark on the rear. Morerias are the small shops that make lots of masks and costumes and rent them to the villagers for participation in the local festivities. These shops are always making a few new masks and costumes. Older masks occasionally get repainted to save time and money.  Costumes get patched. Everywhere else in the world masks and costumes are made at home or purchased from craftsmen. I like the concept of morerias. Why do other cultures not have something similar?

Today most masks are made for tourists and exporters. Some of them look traditional, but most are not acceptable for collecting. This one certainly is!  A

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *