Mexico

Old copper tourist mask

aaaMystrySolvd-988Q:  I purchased this mask at a yard sale and paid $100. The seller was an antiques dealer and had several in his collection. He said this one was from Guerrero, Mexico, and made in the 1920s. I have several masks from all over the world, but mostly I just collect the ones that catch my eye. Since I love bats, I was attracted to this one right away. It is made of copper, with a worn burlap material on the back. It measures 12″ tall X 14.5″ wide X 5″.   Ron, 988

A:  Your information is correct. It is indeed an early 20th century mask from the Altamirano Region of Guerrero State. These pounded copper sheeting (and occasionally silver) masks have been made for the tourist trade in Mexico for well over a 100 years. In Mexico fake masks are usually referred to as “decoratives” and they can be more exciting to look at than some of the authentic dance masks.

If you can get a copy of Mexican Masks by Donald Cordry, 1980, you will see a number of old sheet metal masks, plus a lot more decoratives and authentic masks from Mexico. This important book is out of print and will be expensive. My new book, Masks of the World, Ibold & Yohn, 2015, has a large chapter titled “Mexico” which pictures and describes this famous style of decorative mask on page 132. This large reference book also deals with masks from many other parts of the world.  B

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