Barney Burns and Mahina Drees collected many masks that had been carved by Pablo Pacheco. Most of these had been briefly danced by Pablo, and some by other Mayo Pascolas. Pablo’s masks are a particular favorite of Mahina. Today I will show you a series of Pablos’ masks with goat or human faces that were collected by Barney and Mahina in the latter 1980s, just one view of each to demonstrate the range in their collection. First here are some Goat Pascola masks by Pablo. As I said in last week’s post, most of Pablo’s goats follow a predictable design, with minor variations. This one has an extended tongue.
Today I want to introduce you to the masks of Pablo Pacheco of Rincon Aliso, Sinaloa.
Tom Kolaz obtained this mask from a runner in Sinaloa in 2009, and sold it to me in 2010. By that time Pablo was deceased. The mask had been made circa 1980. The initial owner, Concepción Ontiveros, had been given this mask by a relative as a gift. He was a teacher by day, and a Pascola during fiestas. Although he was the usual wearer of the mask, he also taught his pupils to dance as Pascolas, and he allowed them to wear it sometimes, when they were dancing.
This mask has the long hair that is favored by Sinaloa Pascola dancers. It has wonderful patina.
In the last two posts we looked at masks by Saturnino Valenzuela that had been in the personal collection of Barney Burns and Mahina Drees. They had kept many danced examples, even as they bought and sold many of his undanced masks to Indian Arts Dealers and collectors. Today I will show you some additional masks from another private collection that were also carved by Saturnino. Several of these seem extraordinary to me. I photographed these when they were in the collection of Jerry Collings.
The first is a copy by Saturnino of a circa 1900 Yaqui mask that he had apparently seen in a photograph. It was collected by Roberto Ruiz in 1982, after it had been danced for two years.
This week we will examine some Animal Faced Masks by Saturnino Valenzuela From the Collection of Barney Burns and Mahina Drees.
The first Pascola mask, a Goat, is old but lacks any documentation. It has elements of Saturnino’s style, but it may not have been carved by him.
Barney Burns and Mahina Drees kept many danced examples of masks carved by Saturnino Valenzuela for their own collection, even as they bought and sold many of his undanced masks to Indian Arts Dealers and collectors. Today we will examine nine of those “keepers” that have human faces, along with one at the end that depicts the devil. This is just a sampling.
The first is one of my favorites from this collection, an old and worn human faced mask. It was collected in 1986.
Stars flank the forehead cross.
This week I will focus on made for sale masks by Saturnino Valenzuela. He made masks for various markets—dancers, collectors, and tourists. Today’s masks were brought up from Sinaloa to Indian Arts Dealers in Southern Arizona by Barney Burns and Mahina Drees, as they were intended to be sold to tourists and collectors. I bought them from those dealers, one by one, because I wanted to collect the full breadth of Saturnino’s work, including traditional and more fanciful designs; you will see both. Saturnino died several years ago, and I display these in his memory.
The first two are traditional in design, although, like some you saw last week, they represent “Apaches,” or North American Plains Indians. I bought this one in July, 2000.
The Mayo Indians live in two adjacent Mexican states, Sonora and Sinaloa. Those in Sonora live in towns along the Rio Mayo, while those in Sinaloa live along the Rio Fuerte. There is apparently just enough distance between these two areas to have allowed differences to develop between their traditions. However we know so little about these differences. One obvious detail is that historically the Mayo Pascolas in Sonora have only rarely used animal faced Pascola masks, while those in Sinaloa have embraced Goat faced masks since the middle of the 20th century and perhaps for much longer. Therefore, as we turn our attention to Mayo Pascola masks from the Rio Fuerte towns we will see a mixture of Human faced and Goat faced masks. We will also see again a profusion of made for sale masks that don’t adhere to such traditions.
Much of what we do know about Sinaloa Mayo mask traditions has resulted from the activities of traders such as Barney Burns and Mahina Drees. I introduced them in my post of August 22, 2016. Here is a link to that post.
As you may recall, Barney and Mahina encouraged Indians in a number of Northern Mexican states to produce their traditional arts and crafts for a North American audience, thus providing these subsistence farmers access to cash and modern materials that requires cash to acquire. Then they sold these crafts to Indian Arts dealers in the United States. Along the way, they also collected objects that they found particularly interesting, such as danced masks. One of the Sinaloa carvers, Saturnino Valenzuela, stands out as a prolific and talented artist, so I will begin with his masks. Today we will examine four of those that I purchased from Tom Kolaz in 1998. Three of the four had been danced. These masks served as my introduction to this carver.
The first of these has a very long beard.
Otherwise this example is very representative of Saturnino’s style. Almost all of his masks have:
1. this rim design of small gouged triangles painted in alternating colors,
2. a forehead cross that has been carved in relief, and
3. additional decorative elements that are carved in relief, such as flowers, stems of flowers, and even flower pots. This mask has flowers with stems on the cheeks.
Today I will present three more masks that were carved by Luciano Valenzuela. These had been collected by Barney Burns and Mahina Drees, and Mahina permitted me to photograph their collection in 2016. I show you these masks because they are carved so much like those in last weeks post, but then extensive wear and alterations by dancers or others have caused two of them to look quite different, with embellishments that the carver had in effect omitted, from a cultural perspective.
This first mask was collected in Sonora at an unknown date.
For several months we have examined Mayo masks from lowland villages along the Rio Mayo, in Sonora. Then I took a break from Mayo masks to discuss some recent acquisitions or discoveries. Now we will spend two weeks with masks from a village that is also on the Rio Mayo, but much further to the Northeast in a mountainous region. The masks in this week’s post were made in Vado Cuate, a small town North of the City of Alamos. I will start with four masks from Vado Cuate that I obtained from Tom Kolaz in 2005. The carver, Luciano Valenzuela, is a Mayo Indian, his wife is Guarijío (or Warijío), and the masks are used by both Mayo and Guarijího Pascola dancers. The latter Indians live over the border from Sonora, in Chihuahua.
These masks are carefully carved, they are carefully fitted with hair bundles that are held by pegs, and they are painted with bright colors in an informal manner. They don’t appear to be painted for artistic excellence, but to achieve a functional effect—to be suitable for a Pascola to wear during a fiesta. All four of these masks were danced during a fiesta in December 2004, and then they were purchased by a collector. Here is the first.
Some of these masks lack a rim design, nor do they have any other decoration, such as painted wedges on the cheeks. This one simply has a Maltese cross painted on the forehead.
Today, sweeping up some of the last of my unposted masks from the coastal Mayo towns, I am starting with two attractive Pascola masks by Estaban González Leva, which I bought in 1995 from INAH, a government museum shop in Mexico City. These are modern and sophisticated in style, and they lack forehead crosses. Due to the long hair, I assumed that these were Mayo masks, even though a tiny tag on the Pig declared that it was Yaqui. I know nothing more about this carver, so I can’ t even say whether they are definitely Yaqui or Mayo. I would think that these were carved for sale to dancers or collectors.
Then I am adding a trio of masks by Juan Nieblas that I bought from Tom Kolaz in 2007. At that time, Juan lived in Santa Bárbara, a tiny Rio Mayo village in the Municipio of Alamos, Sonora. In contrast to the first two, these masks are more traditional in design, but brightly painted. Tom purchased these three masks from the manager of a Pascola group, during a fiesta; they were to be danced, but Tom bought them before this could occur.
The first of the masks by Estaban González Leva appears to have a clown’s face (or the face of an evil character in a Batman™ movie).
Note the long brow hair and the extremely long beard, in the tradition of Sinaloa Mayo masks and characteristic of recent Rio Mayo masks.