East Asia

Morione mask from the Philippines

Roman Centurian
Roman Centurian

Q:  I purchased this mask at an estate sale about 5 years ago. I like that it is so realistic. It even had eyelashes.
I think it may be Mexican and there appears to be some staining on the inside forehead, cheeks and chin.
It is about 7 inches tall and 6 inches across. Thanks for any information you can give me.  Tom, 804

A:  It looks Mexican but is actually from the Philippine Islands. The eye holes and the rear give it away. These masks are part of the rich Spanish Colonial tradition you find in Mexican masquerade. There are five towns on the isle of Marinduque, just south of the main island of Luzon, that celebrate Lent with a passion play in the streets. Masked men march around town for the entire week in a drama that portrays the search for Longinus, a Roman centurion who was blind in one eye. Longinus’ pursuers are actually penitents who don colorful masks with helmets, usually made of wood or papier mache by skilled craftsmen in the Western European Catholic tradition. These masks are always worn with a Roman legionnaire’s helmet which can be part of the mask or a separate part of the costume. The latter in this case.  A-  (It would get an A+ if it came with a nice helmet.

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