In their book Máscaras (1981, pages 86 and 87), Jaled Muyaes and Estela Ogazón wrote of the masks worn in the Danza de los Xantolos—”The masks are of two different types. The so-called primitive masks are characterized by painted features, geometric incisions representing wrinkles and an open mouth displaying teeth and gums. The more elaborate masks are characterized by their anthropomorphic realism and fine workmanship. They are small, disproportionate, some painted and others left unpainted.” Those authors included a photo of one of the geometric masks (Plate 17). Last week’s post featured masks from the “more elaborate” category, while today’s discussion will focus on the “primitive” or geometric masks. There is actually a third category, masks with novel designs, some of which would be described as primitive after all, and probably a fourth that consists of masks borrowed from other dances. Here is one of those geometric masks.
I purchased this Viejo mask and the next from Dinah Gaston in 2002. It is from Huehuetla, Hidalgo.
In their book Máscaras (1981, pages 86 and 87), Jaled Muyaes and Estela Ogazón wrote of the masks worn in the Danza de los Xantolos—”The masks are of two different types… The more elaborate masks are characterized by their anthropomorphic realism and fine workmanship.” Today I will discuss those Viejo or Xantolo masks that are attractive and realistic in design.
Dinah Gaston, a Canadian, moved to Mexico in the 1990s in search of adventure and folk art. Roaming in the Huasteca, she was offered a group of masks in this anthropomorphic style. I found them particularly interesting because they appeared to be by the same hand as those in last week’s post, although they are Viejos from the Xantolos performance, and not Juanegros. I purchased this group—one male and four female masks—in 2002.
Actually Dinah’s life has many dimensions (see link that follows).
Here is the male mask. He mainly differs from last week’s group because he is younger looking and lacks obvious stigmatizing features.
This mask depicts a handsome gentleman.
My wife Lucy and I had visited Jaled Muyaes and Estela Ogazón just prior to November 1, 2001 for a very special reason; we planned to attend Todos Santos in Hidalgo and Estela had asked to accompany us. She had, of course, made this trip many times before with Jaled, but he was content to stay at home. As it happened, we saw Xantolo dancers but we did not see Juanegros. On our return, Jaled brought out a box containing an unusual set of masks. These were Juanegros, he said, but they resembled the characters in the Manueles dance, in that the rivals were accompanied by their parents, and all had Caucasian faces. So the set included two younger men, one serious and the other silly, along with two older couples. There was not a mask for the woman being courted and I don’t know if that character was masked or unmasked in the dance. Jaled did not know the name of the place where these had been made and used; he could only say that they were from Hidalgo or Veracruz. Later I picked up another pair of the parent masks, which were obviously by the same hand, on EBay™, and one of those had HG7 written on the back. We will later observe that these masks are similar in style to those of El Higo, Veracruz, so HG may be code for El Higo. They are obviously rare and unusual. Here is the mask of the serious suitor.
One can’t help noticing that these suitors are depicted as old and worn, with gap teeth and oversized noses.
In the last two posts you have had the opportunity to see classic Juan Negro and Pañol masks from Veracruz. This week I will present some additional masks from the Juanegro dance in the Mexican states of Hidalgo and Veracruz that demonstrate the unusual and interesting range in their designs. Most of these will be singletons—a Juan Negro without a matching Pañol or vice versa.Here is a link to yet another variant of the Juanegro performance, in Hidalgo. These masks are really different!
I will begin with a Pañol mask that includes a wonderful new feature.
I have only seen this one, wearing his heart on his chin! Also notice the stylish hairdo—with a sideburn on one side and fuller hair on the other. I bought this mask from Jaled Muyaes and Estela Ogazón in 1999. It was found in the Mexican state of Hidalgo. As you will see, this almond shape is one of the typical Hidalgo styles for Juanegros masks.