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The next response totally threw me.
He said "Senor you can have this mask for 25!"
Now this was really rare. He was dropping 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 have mask and still tell this story, difference is now I understand what was
going on. Would you like to know? The reason for my bargain was that it was last sale of
the day. In process of selling most important sales are first of day because it
gives you luck for day. An earlier start means a more profitable day. Then next
important sale is last one of day as this gives seller luck for next time he
comes to market. When you consider that these people live from proceeds of their labours
and 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 fetch most interest. Young children
enjoy their direct message. The only other mask that receives as much attention or respect
(particularly from teenage boys) is Marka mask I have which only looks down. It is worn by
the man who carries out 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 for tourist. The mask maker in Chichecastenango is worth a visit if you are in
In Guatemala it is possible to discover conquistador masks that mock 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 of festivals mirror European church with local additions. For
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 form carvers
which are ones to be danced. Authenticity in these cases comes form carver. Even
tourist masks can have a high standard of craftsmanship.
In Mexico range of carnival and festival masks is vast. Some of production is personal,
the dancer creates his own
mask. Some of festivities include:-
The Dance of Moors and Christians
The Twelve Peers of France
Carnival before Lent
Animal dances in particular Tigre dance which is a representation of jaguar
The Festival of Crazies ( la fiesta de los locos )
La danza de los vaqueros
Dances for patron saints e.g.. San Isidro Labrador
The Day of Dead
To add to this wide range each area has its own interpretation of costume, dance and mask.
For collector this widens range considerably.
If you are interested in this particular area may I recommend following books
Mask arts of Mexico by Ruth Lechuga and Chloe Sayer Thames and Hudson ISBN 0 500 27797 4
Masks 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 follow same conditions. Thank you for accepting these conditions.
Teacher. Course Leader, Mask enthusiast and collector.