TITLE: Carnival Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Mexico
SUBREGION: Chiapas
ETHNICITY: Mayan
DESCRIPTION: Español (Spaniard) Carnival Mask
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Carnival
AGE: 1988
MAIN MATERIAL: wood
OTHER MATERIALS: paint; glass eyes; animal hair eyelashes; hardware

Carnival is celebrated throughout the Catholic world with parades and other festivities, often including masqueraders. It is the celebration before the fasting season of Lent. In Chiapas, as in many other parts of Mexico, Carnival is celebrated with masked dances and parades. This character represents an Español, or Spaniard, whose light skin, green eyes, and golden blond beard was an innovation to the dark skinned, brown eyed, black haired Mayans.

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TITLE: Parachico
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Mexico
SUBREGION: Chiapas
ETHNICITY: Mayan
DESCRIPTION: Parachico Mask
MAKER: Unknown maker in Chiapa del Corzo
CEREMONY: Fiesta de San Sebastián
AGE: 1988
MAIN MATERIAL: cedar wood
OTHER MATERIALS: oil paint; glass eyes

The Baile de los Parachicos is unique to Chiapas, the southernmost region of Mexico, and is most commonly performed in Chiapa de Corzo and Suchiapa.  It may have pre-Columbian origins, but its modern version is believed to originate in the myth of a wealthy Spanish noblewoman whose sick child could not be cured by doctors in Guatemala. She eventually brought him north to Chiapas, and a Mayan priest recommended she bathe in the healing waters of Cumbujuyú for nine days.  After the child recovered, the woman held a feast of thanksgiving and her servants danced for the children. Hence the name, parachico, meaning “for the little boy.”  In modern times, the parade is held during the holiday of St. Sebastian, the patron saint of Chiapa de Corzo.

The dance begins with a parade of the parachicos through the streets led by a patrón, or boss, whose mask is somewhat more elaborate than usual. All parachicos wear black pants with colorful embroidered designs, white shirt, a bright sarape, black leather boots, and they carry a tin rattle (sonaja).  As they parade, they echo phrases shouted by the leader, such as:

¡Vivan los que ya no pueden, muchachos!” (“Long live those who can’t do it any longer, boys!” or “Long live the elders!”)

¡Viva el gusto de nosotros, muchachos!” (“Long live our shared tastes, boys!” or “Long live our traditions!”)

¡Viva la mano poderosa, muchachos!” (“Long live the powerful hand, boys!” or “Long live God’s will!”)

¡Viva la pandilla rica, muchachos!” (“Long live the rich gang, boys!” or “Long live the parachicos!”)

They may also shout out more or less improvised verses, devout or comical, such as “Little mermaid, little mermaid, sea mermaid, Praise the Holy One and señor St. Sebastián” or “Passing by your window, you threw me a lemon, the lemon hit my face, and went straight to my heart.”

They then perform a group dance to the sound of drums and marimba, guitar, or other instruments. Women in brightly colored floral dresses may accompany them in less formal dances.

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TITLE: Payaso Mask
TYPE: mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Mexico
SUBREGION: Chiapas
ETHNICITY: Mayan
DESCRIPTION: Payaso (Clown) Mask
MAKER: Unknown maker in Huistán
CEREMONY: Carnival
AGE: 1970s
MAIN MATERIAL: leather
OTHER MATERIALS: dyed cloth; metal grommets; ixtle fiber; plastic beads; brass bells; thread; string; pigment

Two types of clown participate in the Carnival of Huistán, Chiapas.  One wears white body paint and scarves over the face, and the other wears a distinctive leather mask like this one.  Both carry stalks of corn, suggesting the pre-Christian origin of the celebration in Mayan prayers for a bountiful harvest.

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TITLE: Parachico
TYPE: mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Mexico
SUBREGION: Chiapas
ETHNICITY: Mayan
DESCRIPTION: Parachico Mask
MAKER: Jerjes Alegría, Chiapa de Corzo
CEREMONY: Fiesta de San Sebastián
AGE: 2012
MAIN MATERIAL: cedar wood
OTHER MATERIALS: oil paint; glass eyes; lacquer

The Baile de los Parachicos is unique to Chiapas, the southernmost region of Mexico, and is most commonly performed in Chiapa de Corzo and Suchiapa.  It may have pre-Columbian origins, but its modern version is believed to originate in the myth of a wealthy Spanish noblewoman whose sick child could not be cured by doctors in Guatemala. She eventually brought him north to Chiapas, and a Mayan priest recommended she bathe in the healing waters of Cumbujuyú for nine days.  After the child recovered, the woman held a feast of thanksgiving and her servants danced for the children. Hence the name, parachico, meaning “for the little boy.”  In modern times, the parade is held during the holiday of St. Sebastian, the patron saint of Chiapa de Corzo.

The dance begins with a parade of the parachicos through the streets led by a patrón, or boss, whose mask is somewhat more elaborate than usual. All parachicos wear black pants with colorful embroidered designs, white shirt, a bright sarape, black leather boots, and they carry a tin rattle (sonaja).  As they parade, they echo phrases shouted by the leader, such as:

¡Vivan los que ya no pueden, muchachos!” (“Long live those who can’t do it any longer, boys!” or “Long live the elders!”)

¡Viva el gusto de nosotros, muchachos!” (“Long live our shared tastes, boys!” or “Long live our traditions!”)

¡Viva la mano poderosa, muchachos!” (“Long live the powerful hand, boys!” or “Long live God’s will!”)

¡Viva la pandilla rica, muchachos!” (“Long live the rich gang, boys!” or “Long live the parachicos!”)

They may also shout out more or less improvised verses, devout or comical, such as “Little mermaid, little mermaid, sea mermaid, Praise the Holy One and señor St. Sebastián” or “Passing by your window, you threw me a lemon, the lemon hit my face, and went straight to my heart.”

They then perform a group dance to the sound of drums and marimba, guitar, or other instruments. Women in brightly colored floral dresses may accompany them in less formal dances.

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TITLE: Parachico
TYPE: mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Mexico
SUBREGION: Chiapas
ETHNICITY: Mayan
DESCRIPTION: Parachico Mask
MAKER: Unknown maker in Chiapa del Corzo
CEREMONY: Fiesta de San Sebastián
AGE: 1960s
MAIN MATERIAL: cedar wood
OTHER MATERIALS: oil paint; glass eyes; ixtle fiber montera; ribbons

The Baile de los Parachicos is unique to Chiapas, the southernmost region of Mexico, and is most commonly performed in Chiapa de Corzo and Suchiapa.  It may have pre-Columbian origins, but its modern version is believed to originate in the myth of a wealthy Spanish noblewoman whose sick child could not be cured by doctors in Guatemala. She eventually brought him north to Chiapas, and a Mayan priest recommended she bathe in the healing waters of Cumbujuyú for nine days.  After the child recovered, the woman held a feast of thanksgiving and her servants danced for the children. Hence the name, parachico, meaning “for the little boy.”  In modern times, the parade is held during the holiday of St. Sebastian, the patron saint of Chiapa de Corzo.

The dance begins with a parade of the parachicos through the streets led by a patrón, or boss, whose mask is somewhat more elaborate than usual. All parachicos wear black pants with colorful embroidered designs, white shirt, a bright sarape, black leather boots, and they carry a tin rattle (sonaja).  As they parade, they echo phrases shouted by the leader, such as:

¡Vivan los que ya no pueden, muchachos!” (“Long live those who can’t do it any longer, boys!” or “Long live the elders!”)

¡Viva el gusto de nosotros, muchachos!” (“Long live our shared tastes, boys!” or “Long live our traditions!”)

¡Viva la mano poderosa, muchachos!” (“Long live the powerful hand, boys!” or “Long live God’s will!”)

¡Viva la pandilla rica, muchachos!” (“Long live the rich gang, boys!” or “Long live the parachicos!”)

They may also shout out more or less improvised verses, devout or comical, such as “Little mermaid, little mermaid, sea mermaid, Praise the Holy One and señor St. Sebastián” or “Passing by your window, you threw me a lemon, the lemon hit my face, and went straight to my heart.”

They then perform a group dance to the sound of drums and marimba, guitar, or other instruments. Women in brightly colored floral dresses may accompany them in less formal dances.

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TITLE: Parachico (Patrón)
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Mexico
SUBREGION: Chiapas
ETHNICITY: Mayan
DESCRIPTION: Patrón de Parachicos (Boss of Parachicos) Mask
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Fiesta de San Sebastián
AGE: 1970s
MAIN MATERIAL: cedar wood
OTHER MATERIALS: oil paint; lacquer; glass eyes; synthetic eyelashes

The Baile de los Parachicos is unique to Chiapas, the southernmost region of Mexico, and is most commonly performed in Chiapa de Corzo and Suchiapa.  It may have pre-Columbian origins, but its modern version is believed to originate in the myth of a wealthy Spanish noblewoman whose sick child could not be cured by doctors in Guatemala. She eventually brought him north to Chiapas, and a Mayan priest recommended she bathe in the healing waters of Cumbujuyú for nine days.  After the child recovered, the woman held a feast of thanksgiving and her servants danced for the children. Hence the name, parachico, meaning “for the little boy.”  In modern times, the parade is held during the holiday of St. Sebastian, the patron saint of Chiapa de Corzo.

The dance begins with a parade of the parachicos through the streets led by a patrón, or boss (represented by this mask), which is somewhat more elaborate and distinctive than the others. All parachicos wear black pants with colorful embroidered designs, white shirt, a bright sarape, black leather boots, and they carry a tin rattle (sonaja).  As they parade, they echo phrases shouted by the patrón, such as:

¡Vivan los que ya no pueden, muchachos!” (“Long live those who can’t do it any longer, boys!” or “Long live the elders!”)

¡Viva el gusto de nosotros, muchachos!” (“Long live our shared tastes, boys!” or “Long live our traditions!”)

¡Viva la mano poderosa, muchachos!” (“Long live the powerful hand, boys!” or “Long live God’s will!”)

¡Viva la pandilla rica, muchachos!” (“Long live the rich gang, boys!” or “Long live the parachicos!”)

They may also shout out more or less improvised verses, devout or comical, such as “Little mermaid, little mermaid, sea mermaid, Praise the Holy One and señor St. Sebastián” or “Passing by your window, you threw me a lemon, the lemon hit my face, and went straight to my heart.”

They then perform a group dance to the sound of drums and marimba, guitar, or other instruments. Women in brightly colored floral dresses may accompany them in less formal dances.

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TITLE: Torito Mask
TYPE: mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Mexico
SUBREGION: Chiapas
ETHNICITY: Mayan
DESCRIPTION: Torito Mask
MAKER: Paola Carolina Torres Hidalgo, Chiapa del Corzo
CEREMONY: Baile del Torito y Parachico
AGE: 2009
MAIN MATERIAL: wood
OTHER MATERIALS: plaster; lacquer; oil paint; cattle horns; glass eyes; cattle teeth; cattle hair

The Baile del Torito y Parachico (Dance of the Little Bull and Parachico) is unique to Chiapas, the southernmost region of Mexico, and is most commonly performed in Chiapa de Corzo and Suchiapa. The dance begins with six to eight female dancers dancing to the music of drums, flute, and sometimes other instruments, after which a dancer in a bull mask and a dancer in a parachico mask enter, dance with the ladies, and stage a mock bullfight. Both the torito and the parachico wear black pants, white shirt, and a multicolored sarape.

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TITLE: Tigre Crest
TYPE: crest mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Mexico
SUBREGION: Suchiapa, Chiapas
ETHNICITY: Mayan
DESCRIPTION: Tigre (Tiger) Crest Mask
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Danza del Calalá
AGE: 1970s-80s
MAIN MATERIAL: wood
OTHER MATERIALS: oil-based paint; cotton cloth; thread; plastic 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.

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