TITLE: Cristiano Mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
SUBREGION: Alta Verapaz
DESCRIPTION: Cristiano (Christian) Mask
MAKER: Unknown maker from the area of Rabinal or Cobán
CEREMONY: Danza de la Historia de los Moros y Cristianos
AGE: ca. 1950s
MAIN MATERIAL: wood
OTHER MATERIALS: oil-based paint
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 Cristiano takes a form typical in the region of Alta Verapaz, with its blue chin (suggesting a shaved beard), sunburned face, and blonde eyebrows.