TITLE: Seri (Comcaac) Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
ETHNICITY: Seri (Comcáac)
DESCRIPTION: Striped shamanic mask with bones
CATALOG ID: LAMX121
MAKER: Unknown maker in Bahia de Kino
CEREMONY: Shamanic Rituals
FUNCTION: healing (?)
MAIN MATERIAL: wood
OTHER MATERIALS: paint; animal bones; adhesive; string
The Seri people of Sonora, Mexico call themselves Comcáac. They live primarily on Shark Island (Isla Tiburón) in the Gulf of California, and the adjacent mainland of Sonora (Punta Chueca and El Desemboque). Despite invasive Spanish colonialism and periodic Mexican assimilation movements, they have maintained their traditions even today. Traditionally, they lived as preliterate hunter-gatherer bands of fifty individuals or fewer, with no tribal organization. They primarily engage in commercial fishing today.
Like many indigenous groups in the region, the Seri engaged in face painting and had shamans who played important roles in healing the sick and protecting the people. Very little is known of their masking traditions, but they were reported by R.W.H. Hardy in the early nineteenth century to have worn deer and mountain lion masks on some occasions, and to have carved wooden masks. This specific mask may have been made by a shaman for use in healing the sick, and would have been worn with a fringe of ixtle fiber.