TITLE: Tigre Crest
TYPE: crest mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
DESCRIPTION: Tigre (Jaguar / Tiger) Crest Mask
CATALOG ID: LAMX003
MAKER: Unknown maker in Suchiapa
CEREMONY: Danza del Calalá
MAIN MATERIAL: wood
OTHER MATERIALS: oil-based paint; cotton cloth; thread; painted glass eyes; metal staples
In Suchiapa, Chiapas, the Danza del Calalá (Dance of the “Celestial Deer” in the Chacoan language) is performed on Corpus Christi using wooden or gourd helmet masks with a cloth cowl. The dancer looks through a hole in the cloth and simulates combat with other dancers in a less brutal version of the Batalla de los Tigres in Guerrero. The dance originated before the Spanish conquest and involves several other masked characters , including the calalá (deer), the biblical Goliath, gigantillo (little giant, representing Goliath’s nemesis David), and Quetzalcoatl (feathered serpent god of the Maya). The dance is performed to indigenous music of drums and reed whistles, and it ends when the tigres revolt.
Click above to watch a short documentary film about the Danza del Calalá of the Corpus Christi celebration in Suchiapa, Mexico.