TITLE: Español Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
ETHNICITY: Nahua & Mixtec
DESCRIPTION: Español Mask
MAKER: Teodoro Tacuepian Galván, Zacapoaxtla (1911-2013)
CEREMONY: Danza de la Conquista
MAIN MATERIAL: wood
OTHER MATERIALS: paint; elastic bands
The Danza de la Conquista (Dance of the Conquest) in Mexico can refer either to the conquest of the Aztecs by the Spaniards or to the conquest (properly, reconquest) of Spain from the Saracens by the European Christians. This mask is used for reenacting the latter conquest, which is frequently and more correctly called the Danza de los Moros y Cristianos (Dance of the Moors and Christians). The latter 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 widely in Mexico, including in Mexico State, Michoacán, Puebla, and Veracruz. Important characters include Spaniards (like this one), Moors, saints, angels, and devils.
For more on masks from Puebla, see Bryan J. Stevens, Mexican Masks and Puppets: Master Carvers of the Sierra de Puebla (Atglen, Pennsylvania: Schiffer Pub’g, 2012).