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.