In 1989, Barney Burns and Mahina Drees collected approximately 20 Mayo Pascola masks that had been carved by Francisco “Poncho” Acacia Estrella, who was living at la Divisa, a small town in the Municipio of El Fuerte in Sinaloa. I have no evidence that they bought any other masks by this carver, either in earlier years or later. At any rate, when I photographed their collection in 2016, they still had 16 of Francisco’s masks that they had collected in 1989. All of those masks had been danced. Evidently Tom Kolaz had earlier purchased two of the masks from this group, for when he sold them to me in 1998, those masks still had tags and labels that had been written by Mahina in 1989. In 2001 I bought a third mask by Pancho from the shop at the Arizona State Museum, and it too had a tag and notations in Mahina’s hand. All three of my masks had been danced. Today I will show my trio by this carver, and then I will throw in five more from those that remained in the collection of Barney and Mahina in 2016. Hopefully there are a few more masks by this carver in other hands.
This is one of the pair that I purchased from Tom Kolaz in 1998. It appears to be a Perro (dog) mask. Poncho’s animal Pascola masks are mysterious, as the labels do not identify the animal represented, and one is left to speculate—dog, pig, or mystery animal?
In the collection of Barney Burns and Mahina Drees there are two Sinaloa Mayo masks that are said to have been carved by Justiano Bacasequa. I have no masks by that carver in my collection, but I do like the classic Rio Fuerte style of this pair.
Here is the first mask by Justiniano. The date of collection was not recorded. We do know that it was danced for 14 years, and at the time of collection Justiniano was 70 years old.
I purchased my first Pascola masks in March, 1988. Both were Mayo. These had been collected in Mexico by Roberto Ruiz, and I bought them from Robin and Barbara Cleaver, of Santa Fe, New Mexico. One of these was said to have been carved by Andres Valenzuela, but after my recent study of the Mayo masks in the collection of Barney Burns and Mahina Drees, I realized that the actual carver was Rosario Cabanio, from Camajoa, Sinaloa. It had been danced for three years. Today I will start with that mask from my collection, following it with four more from the collection of Barney and Mahina.
This is another Sinaloa Pascola mask that retains its original long hair.
Last week we looked at three old masks from the collection of Barney Burns and Mahina Drees that appear to have been carved by José Mopay, along with one that seemed somewhat newer. Those masks got me thinking about another mask, which is in my collection. Briefly, all five of these masks have an unusually elongated and tapered shape, compared to other Sinaloa Mayo masks.
In 1994 I purchased what appeared to be a very old Sinaloa Mayo mask from the Cavin-Morris Gallery in Manhattan. Although it has a similar shape to the Mopay masks, the top of the mask is flat with rounded corners, rather than softly rounded, although that is not so obvious from the first photo. Also, the back design is different than what one finds on the Mopay masks. I have concluded that my mask and the Mopay masks probably reflect an older Sinaloa tradition that has gone out of fashion. I present it in that spirit, as possible evidence of an earlier local style.
José Mopay appears to be a rare example of a Sinaloa Mayo carver whose work is attributed to the early 20th century, rather than the middle of the century or later. Although the names of such early carvers have been frequently forgotten in their communities, in this instance several masks in the collection of Barney Burns and Mahina Drees were said to be quite old, and two of these were said to have been carved by Mopay. All four of today’s masks share an unusual shape, and two share unusual and attractive designs flanking the forehead cross. So it is with great pleasure that I present these masks to you today, and I hope to hear of more examples in your collections.
There is another reason to find these masks exciting. Yaqui masks with goat faces do not appear to date earlier than the late 1930s, goat faced masks don’t seem to ever have been popular among the Mayo Indians of Sonora, but anthropologists such as Jim Griffith have wondered about the possibility that goat faced Pascola masks might have been used much earlier among the Sinaloa Mayo Indians. Mopay’s masks raise this question again.
This mask, which was collected in March, 1991, was said to be 70 years old (as if made c. 1920). The carver was said to be José Mopay of Tenoque Viejo, Sinaloa. It has a dramatic tapering shape.
This week I have the pleasure of introducing a Sinaloa Mayo carver whose masks I have long admired, although I didn’t know his name. Nor did I have one of his masks in my collection. Rather, I coveted these masks in other people’s collections. In 2016 I was thrilled to discover this carver’s name on several masks in the collection of Barney Burns and Mahina Drees, and I even acquired one of those for my collection. He is Pedro Sanchez of El Bajio (Municipio El Fuerte), Sinaloa.
I will start with the one that is now in my collection. This mask was collected from Francisco Valenzuela of Eido Los Torres in the Municipio of El Fuerte, Sinaloa at an unrecorded date. He reported that the mask had been made by Pedro Sanchez, of El Bahio, Sinaloa, in approximately 1982.
Flanking the forehead cross there are flowers shaped like stars.
Sometime in the 1990s, Tom Kolaz found a pair of Mayo Pascola masks in the Sinaloa style in a Tucson resale shop. These were not accompanied by any provenance. He passed them along to me, at a time when we both thought that they would remain forever anonymous. And for me, their owner, they did remain anonymous for about 20 years, until I photographed the collection of Barney Burns and Mahina Drees in 2016 and there found identical masks by a named carver. Most of those masks were said to have been carved by Guillermo Valenzuela, while one was attributed to his brother Andres Valenzuela. I consulted Tom Kolaz, who reported that he too had eventually collected some additional masks that were attributed to Guillermo. Some had actually been sold by Andres Valenzuela, who sometimes identified himself as the carver. It is Tom’s opinion that masks in this style should all be attributed to Guillermo Valenzuela.
Here is one of those that I bought from Tom Kolaz in the 1990s. Then, as now, Mayo Pascola masks from Sinaloa were uncommon, and seldom available to collectors, so I bought them whenever I could.
In this final post about the Pascola masks of Pablo Pacheko I will show some unusual masks from the collection of Barney Burns and Mahina Drees, ending with one more of mine. We will look at masks with vulture or turkey (?) faces, one with a parrot face, and a few more with canine faces. I will start with the vultures.
The first of these lacks Pablo’s typical style of forehead cross, and we will see a variety of crosses on today’s masks. It does have his usual painted lower eyelashes. Documentation is lacking re dates and length of use.
I suppose that this could be a turkey or a turkey vulture.
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.