Guatemala

Smiling Gracejo mask from Guatemala

Q: In these uncertain times, if you wish to show a sympathetic item, here is one. This smiling mask from Guatemala is a Gracejo, which could be translated as a joker. Actually, it represents a young foolish “Cristiano” in the dance “Baile Moros y Cristianos” also named “Baile Rey Tardecindo” in Alta Verapaz (area of Cobán). Typical feature is the tongue passing between teeth. Here the eyes are made of nuts, I guess acorns. The mask is extremely light in weight, the wood could be pine (probably pinabete– a typical pine of Mesoamerica). Also typical of Cobán area is the presence of a row of small holes in the lower part of the mask, allowing to fix a kind of bib. Jean, 1681

A: Thank you for sharing this wonderful mask with us. I’m still smiling.

Most of the people of Alta Verapaz are of Mayan background, but there are some of Spanish and German extraction. It is a great area of Guatemala to visit. Please note that this authentic artifact, despite its years of heavy usage, has been well taken care of. Feel free to enlarge these photos as much as you can to see the detail. I’ll give this museum-quality mask an A+!

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