TITLE: Cora Tiznado Mask
TYPE: mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Mexico
SUBREGION: Nayarit
ETHNICITY: Cora
DESCRIPTION: Tiznado (Judio) Mask
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Semana Santa (Holy Week)
AGE: late 1970s
MAIN MATERIAL: paper maché
OTHER MATERIALS: watercolor paint; cotton cloth; cotton wadding; elastic straps

The Cora people of Nayarit resisted Spanish colonization and proselytization long after most of Mexico succumbed, and their pre-Christian traditions still survive with a thin veneer of Catholicism. Traditionally, the Cora worship three gods, associated with the sun, the moon, and corn.

During the Semana Santa (Holy Week), Cora men paint their bodies with black and white stripes and wear judio (Jew) masks (also called borrados) designed to look like monsters and devils that carry swords and persecute the sun god, who takes the Catholic form of Jesus of Nazareth. The characters are known as tiznados (“covered with ash”).  On Good Friday, the judios capture and kill the sun god, who is resurrected the next day and banishes the judios.

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TITLE: Cora Tiznado Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Mexico
SUBREGION: Nayarit
ETHNICITY: Cora
DESCRIPTION: Tiznado (Judio) Mask
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Semana Santa (Holy Week)
AGE: ca. 1950s
MAIN MATERIAL: paper maché
OTHER MATERIALS: bamboo; paint; animal hair

The Cora people of Nayarit resisted Spanish colonization and proselytization long after most of Mexico succumbed, and their pre-Christian traditions still survive with a thin veneer of Catholicism. Traditionally, the Cora worship three gods, associated with the sun, the moon, and corn.

During the Semana Santa (Holy Week), Cora men paint their bodies with black and white stripes and wear judio (Jew) masks (also called borrados) designed to look like monsters and devils that carry swords and persecute the sun god, who takes the Catholic form of Jesus of Nazareth. The character is called tiznado (“covered with ash”). On Good Friday, the judios capture and kill the sun god, who is resurrected the next day and banishes the judios.

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TITLE: Cuchillo Mask and Hat
TYPE: face mask; accessory
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Mexico
SUBREGION: Tlaxcala
ETHNICITY: Nahua
DESCRIPTION: Cuchillo (Knife) Mask with Hat
MAKER: Isaac Salóm (1949-2021, Huejotzingo, Puebla)
CEREMONY: Carnival
AGE (Mask): 1971
AGE (Hat): 2022
MAIN MATERIAL: leather (calfskin)
OTHER MATERIALS: paint; goat leather and fur; cotton thread; elastic straps

The state of Tlaxcala, Mexico, has a variety of traditions and masks used during Carnival. In the town of Tloluca, the main dance is the Danza de los Cuchillos (Dance of the Knives). The cuchillo mask is made of calfskin and worn by dancers who strap knives to their calves and dance by clicking them together. Around them dance several characters dressed in cowboy (charro) costumes. These include one wearing a black mask, who represents a demon, and several wearing masks composed of goat fur. In some dances, a witch appears who represents the cruel foreman of the plantation whom the dancers (the cuchillos and charros) ultimately are said to have hung. They dance a variety of dances, including the Knives Dance and a circular dance in which the dancers take turns carrying each other.

This mask was danced by Ruperto Olivares Hernández (1969- , Toluca de Guadalupe, Tlaxcala) of the Pandilla Cuchillos y Charros for fifty-one years (1971-2022), although it was made in the town of Huejotzingo in the neighboring state of Puebla, where similar leather masks are used to celebrate the Mexican victory over the French on May 5, 1862. The elaborate hat features two crossed knives decorating the front, to designate the Carnival dancer as a Cuchillo.



A brief documentary about Carnival in the state of Tlaxcala, Mexico.

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TITLE: Cúrpite Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Mexico
SUBREGION: Michoacan
ETHNICITY: Purépecha
DESCRIPTION: Cúrpite Mask
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Danza de los Cúrpites
FUNCTION: courtship; celebration; entertainment
AGE: 1960s
MAIN MATERIAL: wood
OTHER MATERIALS: paint

The Danza de los Cúrpites is one of the oldest ceremonies in the Purépecha regions of Michoacán. The dance is performed primarily in the town of San Juan Parangaricutiro once annually, in January.  Participants wear masks representing handsome young men with black mustaches or beards, and wear elaborate costumes and hats with tinsel, sequins, ribbons, mirrors, and beads. The dance is performed almost entirely by young men under 20, who dance in front of the homes of their sweethearts to woo them. The other characters, an older man (called tarépiti) and older woman (Maringuilla or Maringuía), attend as chaperones.

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TITLE: Deer Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Mexico
SUBREGION: Tuzamapán de Galeana, Puebla
ETHNICITY: Nahua
DESCRIPTION: Venado (Deer) Mask
MAKER: Pedro Sol Sánchez, Tuzamap;an (1945- )
CEREMONY: Carnival
AGE: 2014
MAIN MATERIAL: wood
OTHER MATERIALS: tape; watercolor paint; hardware

This mask was made for use in Carnival in the small town of Tuzamapan, Veracruz. It was carved from light wood by an expert craftsman. During Carnival in Veracruz, celebrants prepare for the coming of Lent by feasting, music, masked parades, and dancing in the streets.

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TITLE: Devil Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Mexico
SUBREGION: Oaxaca
ETHNICITY: Mixtec
DESCRIPTION: Diablo (Devil) Mask
MAKER: Luís Morales Ortíz, San Miguel Tlacotepec (1974- )
CEREMONY: Danza de los Diablos
AGE: 2020
MAIN MATERIAL: avocado wood
OTHER MATERIALS: deer antlers; metal screws; adhesive; plastic eyes; false eyelashes; acrylic paint

The Danza de los Diablos (Dance of the Devils) is performed by the Mixtec people of Juxtlahuaca district on patron saint holidays, such the Festival of St. James (Fiesta de Santiago el Apostól) in Santiago Juxtlahuaca in late July. The dance involves a group of devils (no specific number) in coats and ties, with chivarras (goatskin chaps) and carrying whips, dancing in a group to the music of drums and trumpets.  Unlike other masked dances of the district, such as the Danza de los Rubios, which is performed in pairs to the music a violin and guitar and tells a story of cowboys and their women, or the Danza de los Chareos, which tells the story of the battle of the Catholics and Moors for the reconquest of Spain, the Dance of the Devils tells no story and there are no specific dance steps.  Every dancer capers and jumps according to his own style.

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TITLE: Devil Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Mexico
SUBREGION: Queretaro
ETHNICITY: Otomí
DESCRIPTION: Diablo (Devil) Mask
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Semana Santa (Holy Week)
AGE: 1970s
MAIN MATERIAL: wood
OTHER MATERIALS: hardware; goat horns; oil-based paint

During Semana Santa (Holy Week) in the small mountain town of El Doctor, Queretaro, townspeople reenact the Passion of Jesus Christ in a unique manner. Participants wear stiff cloth animal masks, known as fariseos (Pharisees) or judios (Jews) and persecute a person who portrays the torture and crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth. The fariseos make jokes and mock Jesus, but in the end are converted to Christianity when Jesus is portrayed as resurrected.  Fariseos tend to resemble animals, implying that the Pharisees are bestial.  This specific mask represents a devil (diablo), who encourages the fariseos.

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TITLE: Devil-Catrina Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Mexico
SUBREGION: Oaxaca
ETHNICITY: Mixtec
DESCRIPTION: Diablesa-Catrina (Half Female Devil, Half Sugar Skull) Mask
MAKER: Luís Morales Ortíz, San Miguel Tlacotepec (1974- )
CEREMONY: Danza de los Diablos
AGE: 2020
MAIN MATERIAL: avocado wood
OTHER MATERIALS: goat horns; metal screws; adhesive; plastic eyes; false eyelashes; acrylic paint

The Danza de los Diablos (Dance of the Devils) is performed by the Mixtec people of Juxtlahuaca district on patron saint holidays, such the Festival of St. James (Fiesta de Santiago el Apostól) in Santiago Juxtlahuaca in late July. The dance involves a group of devils (no specific number) in coats and ties, with chivarras (goatskin chaps) and carrying whips, dancing in a group to the music of drums and trumpets.  Unlike other masked dances of the district, such as the Danza de los Rubios, which is performed in pairs to the music a violin and guitar and tells a story of cowboys and their women, or the Danza de los Chareos, which tells the story of the battle of the Catholics and Moors for the reconquest of Spain, the Dance of the Devils tells no story and there are no specific dance steps.  Every dancer capers and jumps according to his own style.

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TITLE: Diablo Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Mexico
SUBREGION: Michoacán
ETHNICITY: Purépecha
DESCRIPTION: Diablo (Devil) Mask
MAKER: Felipe de Jesús Horta Tera (197?- , Tocuaro)
CEREMONY: Pastorela
AGE: 2009
MAIN MATERIAL: wood
OTHER MATERIALS: maque

The Pastorela is the ceremonial dance drama of Michoacán state in Mexico. Pastorelas, performed in February during the Shrovetide season, are primarily religious in significance. The main characters of the Dance of the Shepherds are the Devil, the Archangel Michael, shepherds, and a hermit (who paradoxically represents the ancestors of the performers).  The drama revolves around the attempts of Lucifer and his demon minions to steal the baby Jesus.  Other dramas performed on the occasion include the Dance of the Negritos (dance of the little blacks), relating to the importation of African slaves into Mexico by the Spaniards, and which includes an army of elegantly dressed “little Maries” (Maringuillas), like the one represented by this mask, and feos, or ugly clowns.

This mask was carved by Felipe Horta, one of a famous extended family of carvers from the town of Tocuaro, in 2009, and worn in the Pastorela celebration of 2010.

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TITLE: Diablo Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Mexico
SUBREGION: Mexico State
ETHNICITY: Mestizo
DESCRIPTION: Diablo (Devil) Mask
MAKER: Emmanuel Vázquez, Mexico City (1982- )
CEREMONY: Día de los Muertos
AGE: 2017
MAIN MATERIAL: paper maché
OTHER MATERIALS: paint; polyester ribbon

Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is an annual celebration in Mexico whose origin dates back to the Aztecs. It was originally part of the cult of worship of the goddess Mictecacihuatl held during the summer, but with colonization it was syncretized to coincide with the Catholic holiday Allhallowtide. It is now primarily held on October 31 and November 1.

During Día de los Muertos, Mexican families set up altars (ofrendas) to memorialize departed loved ones and hold night-long vigils at their graves. It is believed that the spirits (fantasmas) visit their families, with the children returning on October 1 and the adults on November 1. The altars contain offerings of the things most enjoyed by the departed, primarily sweets and games for children and mescal, fruits, sweet bread (pan de muerto), and savory foods for adults.  In addition, townspeople in some places, such as Oaxaca, hold costumed parades (comparsas), with such characters as skeletons (calaveras), Aztecs, and devils prominently represented, mixed more recently with Halloween characters taken from U.S. popular culture.

In Mexico City and surrounding areas, the Halloween element of Día de los Muertos dominates. Residents of Mexico City frequently dress in elaborate costumes, sometimes with masks, but more frequently with faces painted like catrins and catrinas (highly decorated, elegant skeletons representing wealthy Spaniards). This mask was hand made by an artisan in Mexico City to be sold for the former purpose.

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