TITLE: Ajitz
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Guatemala
SUBREGION: Chichicastenango
ETHNICITY: Mayan (K’ich’e)
DESCRIPTION: Ajitz (Priest) Mask
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Baile de la Conquista
AGE: 2010
MAIN MATERIAL: wood
OTHER MATERIALS: paint

The Baile de la Conquista (Dance of the Conquest) retells the conquest of the Mayan Empire by the Spanish conquistadors.  The leader of the conquistadors in the area now known Guatemala was Pedro de Alvarado y Contreras (1485-1541), who participated in the subjugation of Cuba, Mexico, and most of central America, and eventually the governor of Guatemala. His viciousness made him especially hated by the indigenous population.

The dance began as early as the 16th century, and begins with the arrival of Spanish ambassadors to the K’ich’e king, along with princes and princesses (Malinches). The king seeks support for resistance from the governor of Xelajú, named Tecún Umán, who appears with his lieutenant, Huitzitzil Zunun (represented here), and priest, Ajitz (represented by this mask). This leads to a battle, in which Alvarado duels with Tecún Umán, who is killed, resulting in the conversion of the conquered K’ich’e people to Catholicism.

For more on Guatemalan masks, see Jim Pieper, Guatemala’s Masks and Drama (University of New Mexico Press, 2006).

:

TITLE: Moro Mask
TYPE: face mask; costume
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Guatemala
SUBREGION: Solalá
ETHNICITY: Mayan (K’ich’e)
DESCRIPTION: Moro (Moor) Mask
MAKER: Miguel Ignacio Calel, Chichicastenango
CEREMONY: Danza de la Historia de los Moros y Cristianos
AGE: 1950s
MAIN MATERIAL (mask): wood
OTHER MATERIALS (mask): oil-based paint; handpainted glass eyes; synthetic eyelashes; adhesive
MAIN MATERIAL (costume): cotton cloth
OTHER MATERIALS (costume): synthetic cloth; synthetic ornaments; mirrors; metal hardware; wicker

The Danza de la Historia de los Moros y Cristianos (Dance of the History of the Moors and Christians) reenacts the reconquest of Spain by the Christians from the Muslim Saracens.  The story was taught by missionaries as part of an effort to instill respect for and fear of the Spaniards in the indigenous peoples, and to convince them that the victory of Christianity over other faiths—by violence whenever necessary—was inevitable.

The dance is still performed in parts of Guatemala. Important characters include Spaniards, Moors, saints, angels, and devils. This moro takes a form typical in the region of Solalá, with white skin, golden hair, and a resplendent quetzal bird on the forehead.

:

TITLE: Huitzizil Tzunum
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Guatemala
SUBREGION: Chichicastenango
ETHNICITY: Mayan (K’ich’e)
DESCRIPTION: Huitzizil Tzunum Mask
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Baile de la Conquista
AGE: 2010
MAIN MATERIAL: wood
OTHER MATERIALS: paint; glass marbles

The Baile de la Conquista (Dance of the Conquest) retells the conquest of the Mayan Empire by the Spanish conquistadors.  The leader of the conquistadors in the area now known Guatemala was Pedro de Alvarado y Contreras (1485-1541), who participated in the subjugation of Cuba, Mexico, and most of central America, and eventually the governor of Guatemala. His viciousness made him especially hated by the indigenous population.

The dance began as early as the 16th century, and begins with the arrival of Spanish ambassadors to the K’ich’e king, along with princes and princesses (Malinches). The king seeks support for resistance from the governor of Xelajú, named Tecún Umán, who appears with his lieutenant, Huitzitzil Zunun (represented here), and priest, Ajitz. This leads to a battle, in which Alvarado duels with Tecún Umán, who is killed, resulting in the conversion of the conquered K’ich’e people to Catholicism.

.

For more on Guatemalan masks, see Jim Pieper, Guatemala’s Masks and Drama (University of New Mexico Press, 2006).

:

TITLE: Mexicano Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Guatemala
SUBREGION: Chichicastenango
ETHNICITY: Mayan (K’ich’e)
DESCRIPTION: Mexicano (Mexican) Mask
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Baile de los Mexicanos
AGE: 2010
MAIN MATERIAL: wood
OTHER MATERIALS: paint

The Baile de los Mexicanos (Dance of the Mexicans), is an annual ceremony in several cities of central and southern Guatemala, usually during a holiday in honor of the town’s patron saint. The dance is accompanied by music from a marimba band.  It dates back to the nineteenth century and originates in Chiapas, Mexico. Over time, it spread to southern Guatemala. Like the Dance of the Little Bull, this dance satirizes the Spanish colonists, with their elaborate clothing, large hats, and prominent noses (relative to the Mayans). They may carry snakes, hearkening back to pre-conquest Mayan rituals. During the dance, the cowboys and bull appear as well, along with several other characters, in an elaborate drama incorporating various dances.

For more on Guatemalan masks, see Jim Pieper, Guatemala’s Masks and Drama (University of New Mexico Press, 2006).

:

TITLE: Ajitz
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Guatemala
SUBREGION: Totonicapan
ETHNICITY: Mayan (K’ich’e)
DESCRIPTION: Ajitz (Priest) Mask
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Baile de la Conquista
AGE: 1950s
MAIN MATERIAL: wood
OTHER MATERIALS: paint; glass eyes; metal hardware

The Baile de la Conquista (Dance of the Conquest) retells the conquest of the Mayan Empire by the Spanish conquistadors.  The leader of the conquistadors in the area now known Guatemala was Pedro de Alvarado y Contreras (1485-1541), who participated in the subjugation of Cuba, Mexico, and most of central America, and eventually the governor of Guatemala. His viciousness made him especially hated by the indigenous population.

The dance began as early as the 16th century, and begins with the arrival of Spanish ambassadors to the K’ich’e king, along with princes and princesses (Malinches). The king seeks support for resistance from the governor of Xelajú, named Tecún Umán, who appears with his lieutenant, Huitzitzil Zunun, and priest, Ajitz (who is represented in this mask). This leads to a battle, in which Alvarado duels with Tecún Umán, who is killed, resulting in the conversion of the conquered K’ich’e people to Catholicism.

This Ajitz has had numerous repairs during fifty or sixty years of use. The metal hardware was painted over to prevent rusting caused by contact with sweat from the dancer’s face.

For more on Guatemalan masks, see Jim Pieper, Guatemala’s Masks and Drama (University of New Mexico Press, 2006).

:

TITLE: Margarita Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Guatemala
SUBREGION: Chichicastenango
ETHNICITY: Mayan (K’ich’e)
DESCRIPTION: Margarita Mask
MAKER: Unknown maker in Chichicastenango
CEREMONY: Baile de los Mexicanos
AGE: ca. 1940s
MAIN MATERIAL: wood
OTHER MATERIALS: paint

The Baile de los Mexicanos (Dance of the Mexicans) predates the Mayan conquest, but its modern incarnation is mainly a form of entertainment dating to around 1940. The dance is performed in various Guatemalan towns, usually during the annual festival in honor of the local patron saint. The mexicanos, wearing masks with long noses and handsome mustaches, and wearing the charro hat and elaborate costume, dance to marimba music to impress the masked Margarita (also known as Malinche and always played by a man), who persistently rejects them.  They drink aguardiente (a strong liquor distilled from sugar cane) as they dance.  In some towns, such as Joyabaj, the rivalry rises to the point that the love sick Mexicans threaten each other with pistols.  In others, such as Chichicastenango, the Mexicans may carry snakes.  Other characters include a negrito (black man) and torito (little bull).

For more on Guatemalan masks, see Jim Pieper, Guatemala’s Masks and Drama (University of New Mexico Press, 2006).

:

TITLE: Torito Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Guatemala
SUBREGION: Nahualá
ETHNICITY: Mayan (K’ich’e)
DESCRIPTION: Torito (Little Bull) Mask
MAKER: Unknown maker in Nahualá
CEREMONY: Baile del Torito
AGE: 1990s
MAIN MATERIAL: wood
OTHER MATERIALS: paint; glass eyes

The Baile del Torito (Dance of the Little Bull) also called the Danza del Torito, is an annual ceremony in several cities of central and southern Guatemala, usually during a holiday in honor of the town’s patron saint. The dance is accompanied by music from a marimba band.

The dance dates back to the 17th century. It tells the story of a cattle ranch in which the caporal or mayordomo (foreman) prohibits the vaqueros (cowboys) to interact with a bull like this one. The cowboys get the foreman drunk and perform bullfights. Eventually, a bull kills the foreman and the dance ends.

The dance frequently begins before sunrise and lasts for up to 12 hours. It may be performed for many days, sometimes over a week. Depending on the size of the town, there may be only one or several bulls and caporales, and up to 50 vaqueros. In some towns, such as Chichicastenango, there is both a white caporal and a black one. The costume of the vaquero is brightly colored and elaborate, with a hat sporting thick clusters of dyed ostrich feathers. In some towns, the vaquero carries a cape and maraca (rattle). The players of each character are chosen through Mayan rituals and are blessed by an Ai-lj (Mayan priest) before the dance.

For more on Guatemalan masks, see Jim Pieper, Guatemala’s Masks and Drama (University of New Mexico Press, 2006).

:

TITLE: Coyote Mask
TYPE: mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Guatemala
SUBREGION: Chichicastenango
ETHNICITY: Mayan (K’ich’e)
DESCRIPTION: Coyote Mask
MAKER: Ángel Ordoñez Ventura
CEREMONY: Baile de los Animalitos
AGE: ca. 1910
MAIN MATERIAL: wood
OTHER MATERIALS: oil-based paint

The Baile de los Animalitos (Dance of the Little Animals), also called the Baile de los Animales, is an annual ceremony in several cities of central and southern Guatemala, usually during a holiday in honor of the town’s patron saint. The dance involves an angel, a hunter, and many different kinds of animals, including the coyote.  The dance probably predates the Spanish conquest, and involves many speeches by the animals relating to their characteristics, their role in the ecosystem, and (since colonization) their anomalous praise of the Virgin Mary. The hunter no longer hunts the animals in the modern rendition. After the speeches, they all dance to a marimba band.

For more on Guatemalan masks, see Jim Pieper, Guatemala’s Masks and Drama (University of New Mexico Press, 2006).

:

TITLE: Mono (Monkey) Mask
TYPE: mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Guatemala
SUBREGION: Unknown
ETHNICITY: Mayan (K’ich’e)
DESCRIPTION: Mono Mask
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Baile de los Animalitos; Baile del Venado
AGE: 1970s
MAIN MATERIAL: wood
OTHER MATERIALS: painted glass eyes; adhesive; oil-based paint

The Baile de los Animalitos (Dance of the Little Animals), also called the Baile de los Animales, is an annual ceremony in several cities of central and southern Guatemala, usually during a holiday in honor of the town’s patron saint. The dance involves an angel, a hunter, and many different kinds of animals, including the mono (monkey).  The dance probably predates the Spanish conquest, and involves many speeches by the animals relating to their characteristics, their role in the ecosystem, and (since colonization) their anomalous praise of the Virgin Mary. The hunter no longer hunts the animals in the modern rendition. After the speeches, they all dance to a marimba band.

The mono mask is also used in the Baile del Venado (Dance of the Deer).

For more on Guatemalan masks, see Jim Pieper, Guatemala’s Masks and Drama (University of New Mexico Press, 2006).

:

TITLE: Torito Mask
TYPE: mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Guatemala
SUBREGION: Chichicastenango
ETHNICITY: Mayan (K’ich’e)
DESCRIPTION: Torito (Little Bull) Mask
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Baile del Torito
AGE: 1970s
MAIN MATERIAL: wood
OTHER MATERIALS: oil-based paint

The Baile del Torito (Dance of the Little Bull), also called the Danza del Torito, is an annual ceremony in several cities of central and southern Guatemala, usually during a holiday in honor of the town’s patron saint. The dance is accompanied by music from a marimba band.

The dance dates back to the 17th century. It tells the story of a cattle ranch in which the caporal or mayordomo (foreman) prohibits the vaqueros (cowboys) to interact with a bull like this one. The cowboys get the foreman drunk and perform bullfights. Eventually, a bull kills the foreman and the dance ends.

The dance frequently begins before sunrise and lasts for up to 12 hours. It may be performed for many days, sometimes over a week. Depending on the size of the town, there may be only one or several bulls and caporales, and up to 50 vaqueros. In some towns, such as Chichicastenango, there is both a white caporal and a black one. The costume of the vaquero is brightly colored and elaborate, with a hat sporting thick clusters of dyed ostrich feathers. In some towns, the vaquero carries a cape and maraca (rattle). The players of each character are chosen through Mayan rituals and are blessed by an Ai-lj (Mayan priest) before the dance.

For more on Guatemalan masks, see Jim Pieper, Guatemala’s Masks and Drama (University of New Mexico Press, 2006).

: