Central American Masks

Written by Ian Bracegirdle

Continued from page 1

The next response totally threw me.

He said "Senor you can have this mask for 25!"

Now this was really rare. He was droppingrepparttar price and I was not even bargaining. Something

was definitely wrong.

"No I don't want a mask." was my reply.

His response was, "Senor, you can have this mask for 20."

Now I really was flabbergasted. "No thank you I don't want a mask.

On this process went until we reached 10 Quetzales. At that point I decided that 3.00 in UK

pounds it meant no-thing.

I still haverepparttar 116078 mask and still tell this story,repparttar 116079 difference is now I understand what was

going on. Would you like to know? The reason for my bargain was that it wasrepparttar 116080 last sale of

the day. Inrepparttar 116081 process of sellingrepparttar 116082 most important sales arerepparttar 116083 first ofrepparttar 116084 day because it

gives you luck forrepparttar 116085 day. An earlier start means a more profitable day. Thenrepparttar 116086 next

important sale isrepparttar 116087 last one ofrepparttar 116088 day as this givesrepparttar 116089 seller luck forrepparttar 116090 next time he

comes to market. When you consider that these people live fromrepparttar 116091 proceeds of their labours

andrepparttar 116092 sales of their labours it is easy to understand.

All my masks have stories around them. Where I got them, why, what they were used for, what I

like about them etc. As I have

used many of my masks with children having stories helps to bring them alive. Funnily enough I

often find that my two crude horned mask from Guatemala fetchrepparttar 116093 most interest. Young children

enjoy their direct message. The only other mask that receives as much attention or respect

(particularly from teenage boys) isrepparttar 116094 Marka mask I have which only looks down. It is worn by

the man who carries outrepparttar 116095 circumcision of young initiates. It fair brings a tear to their


There are so many types of mask that it seems almost impossible to list each type. Many mask

are danced to day so new mask are always being produced. As with other areas masks are made

specially forrepparttar 116096 tourist. The mask maker in Chichecastenango is worth a visit if you are in


In Guatemala it is possible to discover conquistador masks that mockrepparttar 116097 invaders. They are

often associated with Pedro

Alvarado who with his soldiers conquered Guatemala. Also seen are devil like mask which have

snake symbols associated with healing in most cultures. The deer dance, a reflection of a

Spanish tradition, has masked dancers performing in long faced deer mask.

As in Mexico many ofrepparttar 116098 festivals mirrorrepparttar 116099 European church with local additions. Forrepparttar 116100

collector in both these areas it is possible still to buy good danced masks from source. This

is difficult to do with out local help. It is also possible to buy new masks formrepparttar 116101 carvers

which arerepparttar 116102 ones to be danced. Authenticity in these cases comes formrepparttar 116103 carver. Even

tourist masks can have a high standard of craftsmanship.

In Mexicorepparttar 116104 range of carnival and festival masks is vast. Some ofrepparttar 116105 production is personal,

the dancer creates his own

mask. Some ofrepparttar 116106 festivities include:-

The Dance of Moors and Christians

The Twelve Peers of France

Carnival before Lent

Animal dances in particularrepparttar 116107 Tigre dance which is a representation ofrepparttar 116108 jaguar

The Festival ofrepparttar 116109 Crazies ( la fiesta de los locos )

La danza de los vaqueros

Dances for patron saints e.g.. San Isidro Labrador

The Day ofrepparttar 116110 Dead

And more.

To add to this wide range each area has its own interpretation ofrepparttar 116111 costume, dance and mask.

Forrepparttar 116112 collector this widensrepparttar 116113 range considerably.

If you are interested in this particular area may I recommendrepparttar 116114 following books

Mask arts of Mexico by Ruth Lechuga and Chloe Sayer Thames and Hudson ISBN 0 500 27797 4

Masksrepparttar 116115 Art of Expression Ed John Mack British Museum ISBN 0 7141 2530 x

Ian Bracegirdle 2004 1 Elderberry Close East Morton BD20 5WA UK 01535 692207 http://mask-and-more-masks.com You may use this article freely on condition that you include this copyright line and URL and that people who subsequently use this article followrepparttar 116116 same conditions. Thank you for accepting these conditions.

Teacher. Course Leader, Mask enthusiast and collector.

Pacific North West Coast American Masks

Written by Ian Bracegirdle

Continued from page 1

The masks andrepparttar tribes

Throughoutrepparttar 116077 regionrepparttar 116078 most notable common denominator inrepparttar 116079 type of masks isrepparttar 116080 portrait mask produced in differing degrees of conformity torepparttar 116081 human features. Portrait Masks Fromrepparttar 116082 Northwest Coast of America by J.C.H. King is a detailed study of these and is well worth reading.


The Coastal Tinglit live in Alaska rather than Canada butrepparttar 116083 influence spreads torepparttar 116084 Tahtlan tribes inrepparttar 116085 south. Shaman masks representrepparttar 116086 finest work from this area. Potlatches celebratingrepparttar 116087 memory of dead ancestors, were danced by men and women wearing human face masks bearingrepparttar 116088 crests of clans and relatives. Women's masks also had labrets which according to size wererepparttar 116089 mark of rank. The numerous masks ofrepparttar 116090 shaman representedrepparttar 116091 various levels ofrepparttar 116092 spirit world, sky spirits forrepparttar 116093 upper world, or dead warriors,repparttar 116094 sea or water spirits andrepparttar 116095 land spirits. Onrepparttar 116096 other handrepparttar 116097 chief wore masks that portrayed their ancestors.

Tlingit masks, as all masks of this area and African ones, combinedrepparttar 116098 aim of representing spirits and ancestors in forms that were recognisable to all tribal members.


The Haida lived onrepparttar 116099 island now known as Queen Charlotte Island. Ofrepparttar 116100 old masks that have been collected some are known to have been made for sale torepparttar 116101 sailors who visitedrepparttar 116102 islands. The human face masks were worn byrepparttar 116103 chiefs and others of rank during potlatches. Over fifty different crests have been noted and these decoratedrepparttar 116104 masks ofrepparttar 116105 chiefs. Crests represented animals, natural phenomena andrepparttar 116106 mythological past. The potlatches were given byrepparttar 116107 Village or house chiefs and were very well developed forms of feast involvingrepparttar 116108 provider in a huge outlay of goods and food.

The potlatch may have been given for several reasons including, commemorating an ancestor, tattooing a crest or cutting a lip for a labret. Dances similar to those performed byrepparttar 116109 Kwakiutl where a character possessed by a cannibal spirit ran amongstrepparttar 116110 guests biting them forrepparttar 116111 chief to rip up blankets to bandagerepparttar 116112 injuries in a show of apparent wealth.


Tsimshian sculptures were mainly crests,repparttar 116113 masks were of human form and often used to dramatise initiations. The workmanship is highly regarded for its quality. In parallel withrepparttar 116114 neighbouring Kwakiutl some ofrepparttar 116115 initiation ceremonies were very dramatic. The craftsmen were givenrepparttar 116116 tasks of making transformation masks and of engineering some elaborate deceptions.

Novices at initiation ceremonies would be taken through a process where they would disappear throughrepparttar 116117 roof having been captured by a spirit, ?spirited away?, and then to reappear with a magical device presented byrepparttar 116118 spirit. Even for a modern theatre technician this would be a considerable task. Mask-making virtually disappeared by 1940 after declining from about 1910. A revival was introduced with a training programme begun in 1970.


The best known Nootkan ritual wasrepparttar 116119 "tlonquana" which was a dramatic depiction ofrepparttar 116120 capture of initiates by wolves. The masks used depicted wolves, serpents and wild men. Whenrepparttar 116121 initiate had been seized byrepparttar 116122 wolf he would be given ancestral powers and rights. Through this meansrepparttar 116123 initiate would be given insight intorepparttar 116124 adult life and myths of their village and people. The dancing and ceremonies lasted for days. Another occasion on whichrepparttar 116125 masks were worn wasrepparttar 116126 announcement of a potlatch. Becauserepparttar 116127 ceremonies were so detailed they would be arranged up to two years in advance in order to assure there were no clashes.

During a minor feast a female and male masked figure would make a dramatic entrance to announcerepparttar 116128 coming event. The event would be compared to a feast given inrepparttar 116129 past andrepparttar 116130 chief would make a commitment to providing an even more elaborate affair.


The Kwakiutl are famed for their transformation masks. These massive masks, up to eight feet long, are based around an animal form and open up duringrepparttar 116131 ceremony to reveal an inner human character. This method linksrepparttar 116132 human, animal and spiritual aspects of life.

The winter period, called Tsetseka, meaning good humour, was used byrepparttar 116133 Kwakiutl as time for celebrating. They believed thatrepparttar 116134 spirits who had been at large inrepparttar 116135 world returned torepparttar 116136 village to capture certain members ofrepparttar 116137 population. The dances were often connected withrepparttar 116138 initiation of novices. Possessed by wild spiritsrepparttar 116139 novices would disappear intorepparttar 116140 woods to be givenrepparttar 116141 ancestral rites and then reappear as fully fledged members ofrepparttar 116142 society. The spirit which possessed them was Bakbakwalanooksiwae (Cannibal atrepparttar 116143 north end ofrepparttar 116144 World ) who inspired them to eat human flesh. There is no record of cannibalism having taken place, only of ritual enactment.

This period of dancing reached its climax asrepparttar 116145 initiates disappeared intorepparttar 116146 woods withrepparttar 116147 Hamasta dancers appearing atrepparttar 116148 potlatch in their fantastic masks. These portrayed a great bird monster who ate flesh andrepparttar 116149 Thunderbird which beat its wings and flashed its eyes. The dancers were supported byrepparttar 116150 Noohlmahl,repparttar 116151 fool, who, with a large running nose, provided flesh forrepparttar 116152 Hamasta. In addition he also keptrepparttar 116153 watchers in order.

A second ritual featuredrepparttar 116154 Warrior atrepparttar 116155 end ofrepparttar 116156 World, Winalagilis, who was supported by a series of other dancers. Some ofrepparttar 116157 effects were of a spectacular nature with one female helper, Toogwid, being killed by a wedge driven through her head. Real animal blood was released from bladders and seal eyes were made to fall fromrepparttar 116158 mask to increaserepparttar 116159 impact ofrepparttar 116160 event. Atrepparttar 116161 end ofrepparttar 116162 performance she was restored. Other rituals also involved elaborate killings and rebirths. The photographs of Edward Sheriff Curtis record some ofrepparttar 116163 costumes and masks of this area go to Edward Curtis Flurry and Co. to find out more and see some ofrepparttar 116164 pictures.

Also tryrepparttar 116165 Library of Congress.

If you are interested in this particular area may I recommendrepparttar 116166 following books

Mask arts of Mexico by Ruth Lechuga and Chloe Sayer Thames and Hudson ISBN 0 500 27797 4

Masksrepparttar 116167 Art of Expression Ed John Mack British Museum ISBN 0 7141 2530 x

Ian Bracegirdle 2004 http://mask-and-more-masks.com You may use this article freely on condition that you include this copyright line and URL and that people who subsequently use this article followrepparttar 116168 same conditions. Thank you for accepting these conditions.

Teacher Course Leader. Ian has for many years had an interest in masks. His inital interest is tribal masks and masking traditions. He also links current mask usage with our earlier ancestors.

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