Masks of the World


Holy Week mask from NW Mexico

Q:  I recently won an auction with about 20 masks, most of which were tourist junk, but a few of which are interesting.  Most seem to be from Mexico or Nepal.  In this group are several genuine mysteries that have stumped me, and I was hoping for your help with them.  Here is the first one.  It’s quite old, probably dating to the 1970s, judging by the extremely dry leather of the pelt.  It looks to me like coyote pelt, which suggests it could be a fariseo mask from the Yaqui or Mayo people, but I’ve never seen one looking quite like this.  What’s your take on it?  Aaron, 1247

A:  I agree with what you say. Whether it is called a fariseo, a chapokobam, pharisee or judios; whether it’s from the Mayo or Yaqui people; whether it’s from the state of Sinaloa or Sonora; you have a nice example on an indigenous Mexican artifact. I think your estimate of age is very close.  You’re also right that it’s made out of wood and coyote skin. Covering the eye holes with a patch of decorated screen is not uncommon with fariseos from this area.  A

Categories:   Mexico


  • Posted: December 9, 2017 23:56


    One possible answer: a mochicahui judio mask from the Mayo people of Sinoloa.
  • Posted: January 31, 2018 23:41


    What you have looks like an authentic Mayo fariseo mask. Yours appears to have been made specifically for a collector, but it could be from a liberal artisan. Like you said, the style is strange, but it doesn't look outlandish. Often, masks are burned after the ceremony. The typical material is goat pelt, but tradition and the degrees to which they are followed depends on where you are. I feel comfortable saying it's Mayo. It's a very good looking mask.

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