|Q: I’m reaching out to you because I recently received four masks as a gift from my uncle who lives in Mexico City and would like to know more about them. They’re thought to be around half a century old, although I must admit I know very little about Mexican folkloric masks and therefore cannot be sure. The photographs I’ve attached are of one that particularly drew my attention, as it is shaped like an eagle, holding a snake’s (I’m assuming) head with a piece of twine in its beak (affixed with a small nail) and is painted in the colors of the Mexican flag. I haven’t seen too many of the folkloric masks that look like this one. However, there is a clear connection to the Mexican flag and the symbol of the golden eagle eating a serpent atop a cactus, Mexico’s founding mythology. It is about 10 3/4 inches tall and around 8 1/4 inches wide and is made of wood. Glen, 1055
A: There are several good books on Mexican masks and none of them show anything like this. That suggests this old mask is what the Mexicans call a decorativa— a mask made for sale to tourists rather than usage. Some of these decoratives have animals or big insects on their face. Wood carvings like this have been produced for over a hundred years. Or it could be an old, used artifact that went out of style. I hope we get some opinions on this patriotic mask.