TITLE: Moro Mask
TYPE: face mask; costume
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
ETHNICITY: Mayan (K’ich’e)
DESCRIPTION: Moro (Moor) Mask
MAKER: Miguel Ignacio Calel, Chichicastenango
CEREMONY: Danza de la Historia de los Moros y Cristianos
MAIN MATERIAL (mask): wood
OTHER MATERIALS (mask): oil-based paint; handpainted glass eyes; synthetic eyelashes; adhesive
MAIN MATERIAL (costume): cotton cloth
OTHER MATERIALS (costume): synthetic cloth; synthetic ornaments; mirrors; metal hardware; wicker
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 moro takes a form typical in the region of Solalá, with white skin, golden hair, and a resplendent quetzal bird on the forehead.