Masks in Mexican folk art

When one puts on a mask, he takes on the persona of the mask. Ceremonial masks have been used in Mexico for thousands of years. Before the Spanish Conquest, masks depicted the animal spirits and gods of the indigenous peoples. The Spanish priests taught Roman Catholicism to the natives using medieval Mystery and Miracle Plays and introduced new masks for these performances. Such figures included the Spaniard and the Moor, and the Devil to represent Judas.

Native Mexican dances evolved to incorporate both types of figures, and animal masks as well as those of European origin are still used in local festivals. Many decorative masks are also produced for sale to tourists.

Masks differ tremendously from region to region. We have new masks and older masks up to thirty years old that have been used by dancers. Our masks are primarily from the states of Oaxaca, Michoacan, and Guerrero.

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Handcarved mahogany mask, Michoacan

 

Handcarved wooden devil mask, Ocumicho, Michoacan