Q: (From a small museum) We have this wooden mask with no information on it, and no real leads on where to look. The mask is an orange face with black spots all over it, with it’s brow and mouth region protruding out. It’s about 8″ tall and has what appears to be some form of leather with a few traces of animal hair nailed in with tiny nails above its’ eyes and mouth almost like eyebrows and a mustache. Inside the mouth on the upper part are four holes that look like they used to hold some kind of makeshift teeth in them. Dani, 643
A: Maybe it’s a Tigre, or jaguar mask, from a remote rural area of Mexico. But it doesn’t look like any Mexican mask I’ve ever seen. So we can’t rule out other possibilities. Too bad the hair came off those patches of animal skin. I would hesitate to display a mask like this without knowing for sure where it came from. Let’s see if we can get some help.
I agree with Bob. This looks like a jaguar mask from rural Mexico. More specifically, it is common for mask makers to nail on strips of sheepskin, or some other hide, to create eyebrows and a mustache, in the Mexican state of Guerrero. This mask certainly could have been made there, based on its form, which is rather simplistic. Over time, moths eat the wool, leaving the mask looking like this. Also, those Guerrero jaguars typically have carved wooden fangs. On the other hand, the jaguars from Amuzgo villages in Guerrero, and the Mixtec jaguars from across the border in the state of Oaxaca, look completely different than this one; in Mexico, and even in the state of Guerrero, there is great variety in jaguar masks- wood, leather, paper mache, …