TITLE: Conquistador (Spaniard) Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
SUBREGION: El Quiché
ETHNICITY: Mayan (K’ich’e)
DESCRIPTION: Conquistador (Español) Mask
CATALOG #: LAGT013
MAKER: Unknown maker in Santa Cruz del Quiché
CEREMONY: Baile de la Conquista
MAIN MATERIAL: wood
OTHER MATERIALS: oil-based paint; glass eyes; burlap; adhesive
The Baile de la Conquista, or Dance of the Conquest, is performed throughout Guatemala, usually on a town’s patron saint holiday. It retells the story of the conquest of the Americas by the Spaniards, led by Hernán Cortés, who eventually became the governor of “New Spain.” In the story, Cortés brings a small army of Spaniards, allied with various indigenous tribes and assisted by a native woman known as Malinche, to subdue and convert the Mayans, who are led by Tecu Uman and assisted by the prophecies of an ajitz, or shaman. Although there are mock battles between the Mayans and Spaniards in most performances, different towns have different versions of the story, with some ending in the conquest and conversion of the Mayans, and others telling a revisionist tale of the capture and surrender of the Spaniards.
For more on Guatemalan masks, see Jim Pieper, Guatemala’s Masks and Drama (University of New Mexico Press, 2006).
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