TITLE: Chilolo Pilato Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Mexico
SUBREGION: Oaxaca
ETHNICITY: Mixtec
DESCRIPTION: Pilato Mask
MAKER: Luís Morales Ortíz, San Miguel Tlacotepec (1974- )
CEREMONY: Carnival (Danza de los Chilolos)
AGE: 2021
MAIN MATERIAL: avocado wood
OTHER MATERIALS: acrylic paint

The Danza de los Chilolos is performed by the Mixtec people of Juxtlahuaca district and surrounding towns during Carnival or on special occasions, such as the inauguration of a church. The word “chilolo” is a Spanish version of the Mixtec term Lolo Nchicaa, meaning Ritual of the Jaguar. As the name suggests, this dance originates before the Spanish invasion and is one of the oldest still danced in Oaxaca.

It is based on a legend of a great chief of Yosocuia who had amassed a large fortune, but who decided the leave the village in the care of his sons. He went to Tututepec, married a noblewoman, and started a new family, but he longed for his old kingdom. His wife wished him to remain and, on the advice of a priest, sought the help of a mystical creature, the Nahual. The Nahual transformed itself into a jaguar and slaughtered all the cattle of the chief’s sons, so that when he arrived back in Yosocuia, he saw nothing but poverty. He decides to hunt the jaguar, taking with him his best guerreros del sol (Warriors of the Sun), also called Pilatos, who wear this mask. The chief is represented by a character known as Santiaguito.

The Danza de los Chilolos is accompanied by a small orchestra of a Mixtec small, square drum and stick (tamborcito) made from goat hide, and a simple reed flute. The chilolos perform choreographed steps, wearing elaborate costumes and colorful feathered crowns made of wood and adorned with mirrors. They wear bells on their boots that shake as they dance, and carry a sword in one hand and a flag in the other. Much of the symbolism of the dance relates to Catholicism, because Spanish missionaries did not tolerate pre-Christian traditions and compelled the Mixtecs to corrupt their culture with Catholic doctrines.

Normally, masks of this region are made of sabino wood (Mexican cypress), but other woods (such as avocado, in this case) may substitute when the sabino is unavailable.

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TITLE: Mixtec Rubio Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Mexico
SUBREGION: Oaxaca
ETHNICITY: Mixtec
DESCRIPTION: Rubio (Blond One) Mask
MAKER: Luís Morales Ortíz, San Miguel Tlacotepec (1974- )
CEREMONY: Danza de los Diablos
AGE: 2021
MAIN MATERIAL: avocado wood
OTHER MATERIALS: plastic eyes; adhesive; false eyelashes; acrylic paint

The Danza de los Rubios (Dance of the Blond Ones) 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 is performed in pairs to the music a violin and guitar and tells a story of cow herders (vaqueros) and their women, who dance in a double line. The male mask, the rubio, was probably originally intended to mock the Spaniards, with their blue eyes, mustaches, and squint at the harsh Mexican sun. Over time, the fun of ridiculing the disappearing Spaniards must have paled, and the characters came to represent the indigenous cow herders and their wives (called marialenchas).

Normally, masks of this region are made of sabino wood (Mexican cypress), but other woods (such as avocado, in this case) may substitute when the sabino is unavailable.

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TITLE: The Devil Inside Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Mexico
SUBREGION: Oaxaca
ETHNICITY: Mixtec
DESCRIPTION: Mask of a Devil Regurgitating Another Devil
MAKER: Luís Morales Ortíz, San Miguel Tlacotepec (1974- )
CEREMONY: Danza de los Diablos
AGE: 2021
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: 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: 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: Carnival Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Mexico
SUBREGION: Oaxaca
ETHNICITY: Mixtec
DESCRIPTION: Male Negro Mask
MAKER: Unknown maker in Silacayoapam
CEREMONY: Carnival
AGE: 1999
MAIN MATERIAL: wood
OTHER MATERIALS: paint; glass eyes; plaster; animal hair eyelashes

Carnival is celebrated throughout the Catholic world with parades and other festivities, often including masqueraders. It is the celebration before the fasting season of Lent. In Oaxaca, as in many other parts of Mexico, Carnival is celebrated with masked dances and parades.

Traditionally, masks were not used in the Carnival of Silacayoapam, a small town in the Mixteca region of Oaxaca. Dancers would instead paint their bodies and faces black with charcoal or ash and wear their most dilapidated clothing in imitation of the “negros” or mulattoes brought to coastal Oaxaca by the Spanish colonists. All dancers were adult males (though some dressed as women) and would dance to music of a violin and other local instruments. Some forty years ago, the negros began wearing simple masks made from fibers from the agave plant. They developed a variety of dances, such as the Danza de los Negros (Dance of the Black People), Danza del Panadero (Dance of the Baker), and Danza de los Apaches (Dance of the Indians). All but the first of these have disappeared.

In modern times, both the costumes and the music have become more sophisticated. Today, masqueraders wear assiduously carved and elaborately painted masks and fancy costumes that they borrow from a community storage room. The bands are larger, with a greater diversity of instruments including trumpets and saxophones, and they play a kind of music known as chilena mixteca.

Included in the festivities are games and other activities. Some masked characters carry dried chile peppers and, if the town children taunt them, they chase them through the streets. If the masqueraders catch a child, they stuff a chile in his mouth. Others characters throw talcum powder or small fruits at the crowd. The masked men traditionally buy perfume for the women they are courting, using the mask to heighten the mystery.

The negros today are rarely black, but their name has not changed. This mask represents one. It was used in Silacayoapam from 1999 until 2016.

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TITLE: Carnival Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Mexico
SUBREGION: Oaxaca
ETHNICITY: Mixtec
DESCRIPTION: Female Negro Mask
MAKER: Unknown maker in Silacayoapam
CEREMONY: Carnival
AGE: 2005
MAIN MATERIAL: wood
OTHER MATERIALS: paint; glass eyes; plaster; animal hair eyelashes; foam rubber

Carnival is celebrated throughout the Catholic world with parades and other festivities, often including masqueraders. It is the celebration before the fasting season of Lent. In Oaxaca, as in many other parts of Mexico, Carnival is celebrated with masked dances and parades.

Traditionally, masks were not used in the Carnival of Silacayoapam, a small town in the Mixteca region of Oaxaca. Dancers would instead paint their bodies and faces black with charcoal or ash and wear their most dilapidated clothing in imitation of the “negros” or mulattoes brought to coastal Oaxaca by the Spanish colonists. All dancers were adult males (though some dressed as women) and would dance to music of a violin and other local instruments. Some forty years ago, the negros began wearing simple masks made from fibers from the agave plant. They developed a variety of dances, such as the Danza de los Negros (Dance of the Black People), Danza del Panadero (Dance of the Baker), and Danza de los Apaches (Dance of the Indians). All but the first of these have disappeared.

In modern times, both the costumes and the music have become more sophisticated. Today, masqueraders wear assiduously carved and elaborately painted masks and fancy costumes that they borrow from a community storage room. The bands are larger, with a greater diversity of instruments including trumpets and saxophones, and they play a kind of music known as chilena mixteca.

Included in the festivities are games and other activities. Some masked characters carry dried chile peppers and, if the town children taunt them, they chase them through the streets. If the masqueraders catch a child, they stuff a chile in his mouth. Others characters throw talcum powder or small fruits at the crowd. The masked men traditionally buy perfume for the women they are courting, using the mask to heighten the mystery.

The negros today are rarely black, but their name has not changed. This mask represents a negra, or female black. It was used in Silacayoapam from 2005 until 2016.

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TITLE: Jaguar Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Mexico
SUBREGION: Puebla
ETHNICITY: Mixtec
DESCRIPTION: Tecuan (Jaguar) Mask
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Danza de los Tecuanes
AGE: 1960s-1970s
MAIN MATERIAL: wood
OTHER MATERIALS: paint; boar teeth; cotton straps

In parts of Puebla, the Mixtec people celebrate the Danza de los Tecuanes (Dance of the Man-Eaters) in the summer, a dance-drama similar to one celebrated in parts of Guerrero as well. In Puebla, the drama is sometimes known as La Muerte del Tigre (Death of the Jaguar), and tells the story of farmers, sometimes called elders (viejos), who band together to hunt a jaguar that has been killing their domestic goats. The performance is danced to the traditional music of flutes and drums.

For more on masks from Puebla, see Bryan J. Stevens, Mexican Masks and Puppets: Master Carvers of the Sierra de Puebla (Atglen, Pennsylvania: Schiffer Pub’g, 2012).

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TITLE: Rubio Mask
TYPE: mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Mexico
SUBREGION: Oaxaca
ETHNICITY: Mixtec
DESCRIPTION: Rubio (Blond One) Mask
MAKER: Unknown maker in Santiago de Juxtlahuaca
CEREMONY: Danza de los Rubios (Carnival)
AGE: 1950s-1960s
MAIN MATERIAL: wood
OTHER MATERIALS: oil-based paint

The Danza de los Rubios (Dance of the Blond Ones), also known as Danza de los Pachecos (Dance of the “Stoners”) is a ceremony performed during the Carnival in the Mixtec region of Oaxaca. The rubio characters dress as charros (cowboys) in  chaps, spurs, sombreros, and dark masks, and carry leather whips. They are said to represent the native country folk who become drunk on aguardiente after a hard day’s work herding cattle. They dance with elaborately dressed women (sometimes masked, sometimes not) to the chilena music of violins and the jarana, a small guitar-like instrument, and periodically comment on difficulties of the cattle drive. The dance probably dates back a century or more. Characters include El Caporal (the leader), the Caporal‘s wife (María Cotita), the Caporal‘s mistress (María Lencha), and various cowboys, named Alvarado, El Rubio, Margarito (also known as the Chile Verde), and Pachequito. In addition, one or more rubios wearing a large leather bull figure over his head and shoulders, representing a troublesome toro (bull), appears to illustrate the rigors of the cattle drive, as the charros struggle to control the cattle. The masks are frequently disfigured to represent the drunkenness of the characters. This specific mask may represent any of the rubios or the Caporal himself.

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TITLE: Tejerones Mask
TYPE: mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Mexico
SUBREGION: Oaxaca
ETHNICITY: Mixtec
DESCRIPTION: Burro (Donkey) Mask
MAKER: Jose “Che” Luna, Huazolotitlan, Pinotepa Nacional
CEREMONY: Danza de los Tejorones
AGE: 1980s
MAIN MATERIAL: red cedar wood
OTHER MATERIALS: paint; bull horns; hardware

The Danza de los Tejorones originates in the resentment felt by the Mixtec people at the political and economic domination of the Spaniards and mestizos. The tejorones characters wear poorly fitting suits and Caucasian-type masks with a feather headdress, and carry rattles in one hand a handkerchief, machete, or gun in the other. It begins with music as the tejorones characters line up in two files opposite one another, with the sole female character, Maria Candelaria, at one end. They dance in an intricate pattern and periodically shout while animals such as the tigre (jaguar), dog, cow, or donkey, surround them and act out their roles. The behavior of the tejorones is offensive to the crowd, with insults shouted and sexual taboos violated, but the crowd must endure it patiently.

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