Guatemala

More about Guatemalan morerias

Q: This mask is a Guatemalan dance mask depicting the character of Pedro Alvarez. Material: brown wood with layers of paint and blue glass eyes that are fixed from the back with a hardened wax. Size: 8.9” x 6.1” (22,5 x 15,5 cm). On the front side I count 3 different layers of paint over a grounding of cream white gesso. On the back side are carved the initials AP and I have read that this is a maker’s mark (but cannot find the passage with AP again). Hanno, 1592

A: AP is the mark of Pedro Antonio Tistoj Mazariegos who had a moreria in Tetonicapan. You can see his mark on the top-right of the rear photo. Pedro Antonio died in 1978, so this mask is about 50 years old. Morerías are the shops where native Guatemalans rent their masks, clothes and other accessories for the representations of the ritual dances. The main morerias have almost always been in Totonicapán , Quiché and Alta Verapaz in Guatemala.

Hanno’s mask was used a lot. They are usually made of wood, and represent human and animal faces. The mask are rented time and time again. Every few years repairs and repainting usually occurs. Guatemalans have standardized the dress and masks used in the traditional dances.

With the exception of El Salvador, there are no morerias in any other country I can think of. The Guatemalan morerías, like exclusive workshops for making suits and masks, arose in the 17th century, but it was during the 19th century, when they reached their current characteristics. You would think rental shops exist in other countries where indigenous people practice masquerade. A

One Comment

  • Jean

    Hi,
    Actually, the mark is not AP, but ATP condensed together. Take a look to the post “Excellent 100 yr-old mask” from Oct 21, 2018, where there is a pic of the mark.

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