Mexico

Mystery mask from Oaxaca

Q: I bought this mask in Oaxaca in 1976. I have been collecting masks since 1974 and have not seen anything quite like this. Is it a viejito? I’m at a loss. Raul, 1752

A: The state of Oaxaca, on the lower Mexican Pacific coast, makes a lot of different-looking masks. Often they are creative, but still manage to be appropriate for a traditional dance. Note the photo of a collector’s wall full of Oaxacan masks. Many of them I haven’t seen before.

This crazy, big-nosed guy is a challenge for me. I have no idea what role he might play in a dance. Mexican masks are my favorites, and I’ve been doing this website for over 20 years. But Raul’s colorful mask is probably one of a kind.

The chance of it being an old and used mask are slim. More likely it was happily carved, painted and antiqued shortly before being sold in 1976. Authentic or not, it should be a treasure to serious collectors like me. B+

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