Q: I bought this mask in Mexico while living there. Story I was told is It is used in a celebration where it is worn and then thrown in a bonfire. It is made out of paper and clay and has a small skull with horns on the forehead of this unspecified animal. I forgot which state of Mexico it comes from. I mostly collect abstract masks from Mexico, regardless of their market value. Marco, 1359
A: Your bonfire story is true. The Cora people are supposed to destroy there papier mache masks after the Holy Week ceremonies in the state of Nayarit of northern Mexico. Because of this tribe’s remoteness they are less influenced by Roman Catholicism or European artistic traditions. When you combine the originality of these masks with their scarcity (they must be destroyed), collectors value them highly. The Mexico chapter in the book Masks of the World by Ibold and Yohn shows Cora and other examples of abstracted design in Mexican masquerade. Please send us another set of pictures that demonstrate the abstract approach to mask-making in Mexico. A
I also have a rare Cora mask bought in Tepic many years ago. It was worn in a ceremony and has old, kind of frayed string that would attach it to the head of the wearer. It i maybe a deer. It is in excellent conditions and I was wondering what the worth of that was.
Also, I have 2 masks that I bought about 25 years ago in Chicago from a woman who used to live in Mexico City and she bought them maybe 40 years ago. She said that they were Huichol Indian except I have never found anything like them anywhere. They are made of wood and the design on them is “carved” by burning the wood (I think). They both have rings so that the mask fits on and over the head and the ring is “ringed” with feathers. The woman I bought it from said she thought maybe they were illegal eagle feathers which now are not possible to take out of Mexico (but I am back in Mexico).
Plus I have a ocuple of leather masks I can find nowhere. One is a dark brown fairly flat mask (bu with eye holes and has some kind of (animal?) hair for a long beard. The other has a scrunched up face, no hair. I cannot find photos of either of them in the internet as well nor in any of the 4 or 5 mask books I have searched.
Can anyone help identify them and then give me an approximate of their worth?