Manuel Yocupicio Zamora

In a series of recent posts I have reviewed the Pascola masks of some of the carvers identified by James Griffith during field work in the Rio Mayo area of Sonora in 1965. There are a number of additional Rio Mayo carvers that were discussed in Griffith’s Masters Thesis of 1967, including Manuel Yocupicio Zamora, Tránsito Duarte, Manuel Bacasewa, Felipe Buitimea, Rosario Jilomeno, Brígido Moroyoki, Escolástico Piña, Domingo Vaípuri, Álvaro Villaneuva, Teodoro Wikosa, Luciano Angwamea, Lupe Montañez, Pedro Osimea, Ancencio Valenzuela. Santos Valenzuela, Andres Wokovatchi, and Guillermo Yocupicio. I invite you to look at the mask photos and supporting information that Griffith provided, which you can survey once again using the link that follows. I particularly call your attention to a mask by Andres Wokovatchi (M3 on p. 48a), and another by Acencio Valenzuela (M1, p. 49a), which are classic examples of the Pascola masks that were made on the Rio Mayo in the 1920s. These are rare and wonderful. Here is the link.

Today, in a final post related to the carvers featured in Griffith’s Masters Thesis, I will draw your attention to a photograph in the Masters Thesis of a mask that was carved by Manuel Yocupicio Zamora (M26, p. 48d, Arizona State Museum #2005-86-3). You can find this photo in the link just provided or in the one that follows.

Griffith wrote of this mask that “the face is scooped out, rather than flat or convex” (page between pp. 47 and 48). This was apparently the only mask in the sample that demonstrated such scooping. I was interested to learn more about this mask, because I had an anonymous Rio Mayo mask in my collection that could also be described as “scooped out.” Could I use this attribute to identify Manuel as the probable carver of my anonymous mask? To make a long story short, the answer is “No.” My mask was scooped in a dramatically different fashion than the one by Manuel that was collected by James Griffith.

I have examined the M26 mask at the Arizona State Museum in Tucson, and the “scooped” carving does indeed set it off from most of the Rio Mayo masks that we have seen. Here is a drawing of Manuel’s mask from the side view, to better demonstrate Griffith’s use of  “scooped out”.

One might call this a sunken face, because it is creased at eye level so that, when viewed from the front, the plain of the lower part slopes away from the viewer as it rises to the eyes, and then the space over the eyes juts forward. This is an unusual way to depict the human face. The bent line to the left of the face is meant to characterize the relationship between the  two planes of the face. With this additional view in mind, you might like to flip back to the frontal photograph on the Internet link, and look again at M26 from this new perspective. While you are there, notice that the second mask from the left, in the line of photos above M26, is M1 (Arizona State Museum #2005-86-1), the 1920s Rio Mayo mask by Acencio Valenzuela, and that this mask does have a similarly folded face. Manuel has apparently made his mask in an older style.

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Benito Moroyoki

Benito Moroyoki was another of the Rio Mayo carvers who were included in James Griffith’s Masters Thesis of 1967 (M29, page 48). Unfortunately, Griffith included no information about this artist, beyond a photo of one mask that he later donated to the Arizona State Museum. Here is a link to a photo of that mask, 2005-89-29 (the Arizona State Museum number for M29). Due to a flawed algorithm, the link will falsely label other masks as Benito’s that were really carved by other artists.–6G-7R5gKOkafADw&q=benito+moroyoki+pascola+mask+at+arizona+state+museum&oq=benito+moroyoki+pascola+mask+at+arizona+state+museum&gs_l=img.12…97279.101044..103274…0.0..……1….1..gws-wiz-img.RQ5gciclhcE#imgrc=qPdCFXSLi3QUHM:

Benito Moroyoki’s masks are attractive, well carved, and relatively rare, so I have long admired them, but I never have had the opportunity to buy one for my collection. When I attended the museum of Leonardo Valdez in Etchojoa, Sonora with a group from the Arizona State Museum in 2006, Leonardo stated that although these masks were said to have been carved by Benito Moroyoki of Embarcadero Sonora, they were actually carved by Candelario Verdugo; for some unknown reason Candelario wished to create a second style of masks. At present both Candelario and Leonardo are deceased, so this assertion of Leonardo’s is not so easy to verify or deny. In any event, the masks said to have been carved by Benito do not closely resemble those of Candelario, and I will present them to you under Benito’s name. I count myself fortunate to have been permitted in 2011 to photograph an exciting group of masks that were said to be by Benito, when they were in the collection of Jerry Collings. Here is the first of this group, said to have been carved c. 1950.

This very old example has surely been repainted, and probably more than once. Nevertheless, we can assume that all of the carved elements are probably original. For example, the shape of the eyes, nose, and mouth, and the overall shape of the mask, will be seen to be design details that mark the style of Benito Moroyoki in all of today’s masks. This is the only one of the five masks that does not have an extended tongue (the mask in the Internet link also has an extended tongue). All five have elaborate inscribed decorative elements, of which three include inscribed flowers, and all five have inscribed crosses in the Maltese or Patée style

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Alcario Camea

When James Griffith was collecting Pascola masks that had been created by Rio Mayo carvers, back in 1965, he found it particularly easy to build a representative collection of masks by one of the local carvers, Alcario Camea, but he had marked difficulty when he attempted to buy danced masks by Silvestre Lopez. As I noted in last week’s post, masks carved by Sylvestre were perceived as superior to most of the others in terms of desirable design features. In contrast, Alcario’s masks were carefully carved, and perhaps brilliant in their eccentricity, but these idiosyncratic design features apparently went in and out of fashion, over time. One might imagine that these shifts in taste reflect some degree of secularization of the Pascola’s role, but I don’t believe that there is much of a published literature in this area. However, Tom Kolaz has been particularly interested in tracking these changing Pascola mask fashions on the Rio Mayo, and I look forward to a time when he will make his observations more widely available.

In April 1995, I briefly owned an excellent mask by Alcario, with typical features. I immediately traded it for another mask that I coveted. I was later able to photograph this mask  in 2011, after it had entered the collection of Jerry Collings. By now this mask has probably moved on to the collection of Gallery West, in Tucson Arizona. I have no photos of other masks by Alcario to offer you, apart from those in Griffith’s Masters Thesis of 1967, which you can access through the link that follows. Here is a photo of the mask that I briefly owned in 1995, to get us started. I had purchased that mask from Mark Bahti, of Tucson Arizona, who reported that his father, Tom Bahti had collected the mask several decades earlier. In other words, it probably dates to the same period as Jim Griffith’s research.

In the frontal view one sees a number of features that appear on almost every one of Alcario’s masks. These include:

1. the typical cross (which Griffith dubbed the “Alcario cross);

2. almond shaped eyes that are slanted downward at their outer corners;

3. oversized crescent shaped wedges under the eyes (almost as if a second mustache);

4. a broad drooping mustache between the bottom of the nose and the upper lip;

5. open teeth;

6. a ring of hair bundles around the face;

7. a slab-like nose with “ski-jump” contour and a blunt end.

8. and the use of boldly contrasting colors, noted Griffith.

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Sylvestre Lopez

In his Master’s Thesis of 1967, James Griffith told of his difficulty collecting masks by a very popular Rio Mayo carver, Sylvestre Lopez. Dancers were reluctant to sell masks that had been carved by Sylvestre, even if they owned other masks as well, because Sylvestre’s masks were invariably their favorites. In desperation, Griffith ordered two new masks from the carver, but it seemed that Sylvestre was too busy to fill this order in the period when the writer was in the area. In one instance Griffith was able to buy a danced mask by Sylvestre, but this was because the dancer had died and Griffith bought it from the widow; he was sold two others that had imperfections! He commented on the reasons Silvestre was so busy. Most importantly, Sylvestre was “also a Curandero, or healing expert, and often practices up in the Yaqui country at Vicam.” Silvestre had even obtained a Yaqui Pascola mask in Vicam. His curing services there were apparently in great demand. He performed in Rio Mayo fiestas as a Deer Singer, and in addition to supplying masks for the Pascola dancers, “he also makes rasps for the Deer Singers, and has made at least one head for the Deer Dancer” (pp. 101-102).

I have no mask in my collection by Sylvestre, but I can show two masks that I had photographed in 2011, when they were in the collection of Jerry Collings. Both had been attributed to Sylvestre at the time of original collection. I will start with this one, which was collected from Librido Leyva of El Zapote, Sonora at an unknown date. It was thought to have been carved in Borabampo, Sonora circa 1950.

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