TITLE: Carnival Character
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Guatemala
SUBREGION: Unknown
ETHNICITY: Mayan
DESCRIPTION: Character Mask
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Carnival
AGE: 1950s
MAIN MATERIAL: hardwood
OTHER MATERIALS: paint

The Carnival is celebrated throughout Guatemala with masks having religious, historical, and political themes, but masks representing animals or poking fun at prominent villagers are also common.  This mask, skillfully carved from hardwood in the 1950s to represent a furious bearded man, uses subtle paints in a style very uncommon in Guatemala. It is unknown whether the maker was targeting a specific individual or merely trying to provoke laughs by the contrast between the angry character and the merry atmosphere of Carnival.

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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).

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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).

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TITLE: Mono (Monkey) Mask
TYPE: mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Guatemala
SUBREGION: Nahualá
ETHNICITY: Mayan (Kaqchikel)
DESCRIPTION: Mono Mask
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Baile de los Animalitos; Baile del Venado
AGE: 1970s
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 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).  This specific mono was made by a skilled carver in the Nahualá, Sololá Department, and used for many years there.

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

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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).

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TITLE: Lion Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Guatemala
SUBREGION: Panajachel
ETHNICITY: Mayan (Kaqchikel)
DESCRIPTION: Lion Mask
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Baile del Venado (Dance of the Deer)
AGE: 1940s
MAIN MATERIAL: wood
OTHER MATERIALS: paint

The Baile del Venado, also called the Danza del Venado, is an annual ceremony in several cities of central and southern Guatemala, usually during a holiday in honor of the town’s patron saint. Frequently it takes place over a week or more.  The dance dates back to the pre-colonization and undoubtedly originates in Mayan rituals of respect for nature and prayer for a good hunt.  In its modern incarnation, the Baile del Venado typically involves several masked characters, including a steward or mayordomo (in Kaqchikel, cachucha), Margarita (his wife), and el Moro (the Moor, who is actually Caucasian in this region and has a quetzal bird on his forehead).  With them are several animals, depending on the village, and they may include a mono (monkey), mico (small monkey), león (lion), tigre (tiger), tigrillo (little tiger), jaguar, perro (dog), a guacamaya roja (Scarlet Macaw), and sometimes others.  In some places, the mono and mico are the same character.  The number of each animal character depends on the size of the village and the number of participants.

While originally this dance simulated a hunt, in modern times the animals dance and the mayordomo and Margarita feed them. The moro enters last, with a quetzal on his head as punishment from the gods for having worn sacred quetzal feathers.  The moro does not hunt the animals, but rather acts as their guardian and caretaker.

This mask was made in the 1940s and danced extensively in Panajachel by Evaristo Rosales. It may come from a moreria (mask and costume maker and renter) in Solalá or Chichicastenango.

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

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TITLE: Maria Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Guatemala
SUBREGION: Chichicastenango
ETHNICITY: Mayan
DESCRIPTION: Maria Típica
MAKER: Miguel Ángel Ignacio, Chichicastenango
CEREMONY: Baile Típico
AGE: late 1960s
MAIN MATERIAL: cedar wood
OTHER MATERIALS: paint

The Baile Típico (Typical Dance), also known as the Baile Regional, of Chichicastenango is performed on major holidays by a large group of masked men, half of whom are dressed as women. Following leaders whose masks hold whistles to signal the group, they travel around the town, blocking the street wherever they go and dancing in weaving lines according to rehearsed choreography.   This mask is the female character, Maria (in effect, Jane Doe), that represents all the “female” dancers.  It was carved by the owner of a popular morería (mask and costume rental workshop), Miguel Ángel Ignacio, in the late 1960s.

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TITLE: Mazate
TYPE: mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Guatemala
SUBREGION: Salama, Baja Verapaz
ETHNICITY: Mayan
DESCRIPTION: Mazate
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Danza de los Mazates
AGE: 1950s
MAIN MATERIAL: wood
OTHER MATERIALS: oil-based paint

The Danza de los Mazates in Baja Verapaz has many incarnations, but most go under the Spanish name Baile (or Danza) de los Viejitos (Dance of the Little Old Men). This is one of the oldest dances in this region of Guatemala and is performed to honor the patron saint of the village. Among the mazates are two distinguished ones: the Mazate Anciano (elder mazate) and the Mazate Joven (young mazate).  The dancers carry staves and rattles and wear coats and wide-brimmed hats.  In most regions, the mazate masks resembling old men with some degree of realism, but in the distant past, masks could be more abstract and wilder in appearance. Even today, the village of Salama, where this mask originated, tend to have a more exaggerated look.

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TITLE: Tigre Crest
TYPE: crest mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Mexico
SUBREGION: Suchiapa, Chiapas
ETHNICITY: Mayan
DESCRIPTION: Tigre (Tiger) Crest Mask
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Danza del Calalá
AGE: 1970s-80s
MAIN MATERIAL: wood
OTHER MATERIALS: oil-based paint; cotton cloth; thread; plastic eyes; metal staples

In Suchiapa, Chiapas, the Danza del Calalá (Dance of the “Celestial Deer” in the Chacoan language) is performed on Corpus Christi using wooden or gourd helmet masks with a cloth cowl. The dancer looks through a hole in the cloth and simulates combat with other dancers in a less brutal version of the Batalla de los Tigres in Guerrero. The dance originated before the Spanish conquest and involves several other masked characters , including the calalá (deer), the biblical Goliath, gigantillo (little giant, representing Goliath’s nemesis David), and Quetzalcoatl (feathered serpent god of the Maya). The dance is performed to indigenous music of drums and reed whistles, and it ends when the tigres revolt.

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TITLE: Vaquero Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Guatemala
SUBREGION: Solalá
ETHNICITY: Mayan (K’ich’e)
DESCRIPTION: Vaquero (Cowboy) Mask
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Baile del Torito
AGE: 1940s
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) like this one to interact with a bull. 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).

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