TITLE: Mexicano
TYPE: mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Guatemala
SUBREGION: Chichicastenango
ETHNICITY: Mayan (K’ich’e)
DESCRIPTION: Mexicano (Mexican) Mask
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Baile de los Mexicanos
AGE: 2010
MAIN MATERIAL: wood
OTHER MATERIALS: paint

The Baile de los Mexicanos (Dance of the Mexicans), 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.  It dates back to the nineteenth century and originates in Chiapas, Mexico. Over time, it spread to southern Guatemala. Like the Dance of the Little Bull, this dance satirizes the Spanish colonists, with their elaborate clothing, large hats, and prominent noses (relative to the Mayans). They may carry snakes, hearkening back to pre-conquest Mayan rituals. During the dance, the cowboys and bull appear as well, along with several other characters, in an elaborate drama incorporating various dances.

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