Mexico

Huave deer mask from Oaxaca, Mexico

Q: From the lot of masks I recently bought the following one seems to me Guatemalan, but I am not sure. Material: a heavy wood and 2 pieces of fur attached to forehead and chin. In my opinion (coming from a hunter’s family) it is deer skin. The mask’s size is quite large: 14.6” x 8.3” (37 x 21 cm). The traces of paint over a white grounding are soot black, also some white and maybe traces of red (on the nose, cheeks, lips and eyebrows). The wood is very worm eaten and a part of the side rim has unfortunately broken apart, while the skin is rather hardened and loses its hairs. The mask seems to be treated on both sides with smoke and heat, maybe a tough way to fight the worms? A strange observation considers the 3 little holes where normally the ties should be knotted, because the middle one is not on top but on the same level as the side ones and next to the nose. Hanno, 1615

A: Most of the Huave masks on the market today represent armadillos and are made with two pieces of their shell instead of deer skin. This deer masks normally would have a couple of horns coming out of the sides of the top. I think this is a rare Huave deer mask that may be quite old an of interest to serious collectors. A

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