Masks were once common in rural Mexico. On a village Saint’s Day, peasants donned masks and performed in the dances and parades of the fiesta. The masks were made of wood, bone, cloth, and wax and represented tigers, goats, donkeys, bats, lizards, deer, birds, serpents, rabbits, caimans, monkeys, and armadillos.
These animalistic images were usually vestiges of pre-Hispanic gods. Death and various demons were also popular. Other masks were based on post-Conquest imagery: La Malinche, the Spanish Swain, Moors and Christians, black slaves, old men, the Virgin of Guadalupe, cowboys, and Satan.
Community values and history were taught and reinforced through these dances. They were also a welcome form of entertainment in the villages’ poverty-stricken existence.
The peasants believed that their identities rested in their faces; when they wore a mask, they hid their true identities and were transformed. They became gods and had the power to convert the brutal world of animal spirits they inhabited into one that was fertile and life-giving.
We carry a huge selection of masks of every type and size, from every available material in all of Mexico!
Did you know?
The use of masks in Mexico dates from 3000 BC. Masks were used by priests to summon the power of deities and in the sacrifices of pre-Hispanic Mexico. With Spanish contact masks were used to educate neophytes on the Christian faith, and “shock and awe” the indigenous people through dramatic presentations such as the Battle of the Moors and the Christians.
As the two cultures fused, the imprint of each was recorded in masks as well as in the dances they have been used for. The role of the mask has been a dynamic one representing the ever-changing belief systems unique to peoples and geographic regions over time.
NOTE: Items shown throughout the web site are samples of the vast inventory that we carry.
As almost all items are unique pieces of art, not all pieces are always available or exactly as shown.