Mexico

Rare Cora mask from Mexico

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

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