Mexico

New Parachico mask from Mexico

Q:  Actually I have 100 Mexican masks.  A few also from Africa and Sri Lanka, but my main concern is the Mexican Collection.  They are all authentic dance masks I purchased from a collector in Mexico, so I know they are real, historic, danced in masks.  I can send a bit of info for each such as origin, character and dance plus a photo.  What would the cost be to give me an appraisal for each?  Michelle, 1447

A:  Michelle is asking for an appraisal estimate on high quality masks. I picked out this Parachico to share with my viewers what quality can mean. This one is new, but age and usage increase value. These masks only come from Chiapa de Corzo in the Mexican state of Chiapas.

Between January 15 to 23, residents of Chiapa de Corzo celebrate the festival Los Parachicos. The festival originated during colonial times when legend has it a women came to Chiapa de Corzo looking for a cure for her terrible ill son. She prayed to San Sebastian, the patron saint of the pueblo. The boy was cured and a dance was held in tribute. The name of the dance was derived from this act para chico (for the boy).

The dance involves two main characters: the Chico or young boy and the Patron or supervisor of the hacienda. A bull is also used in the dance. To become these characters, the residents of Chiapa de Corzo wear masks made of wood. The mask makers of the Parachico masks operate as part of a guild that follows strict rules and regulations when it comes to the creation of Parachico masks. Young students begin with smaller carvings then graduate to full sized ones. According to William Breitenbach notes, masters and apprentices have been working and training at the Instituto National de Bellas Artes (INBA) in Chiapa de Corzo.

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