In 1994 I purchased a trio of Sinaloa Pascola masks from my friend Tom Kolaz. They had been collected together, but none had an identified carver. Two had the faces of goats, and the third, with a feline face, was said to represent a Leon (Mountain Lion). Looking at them now, I believe that the Lion and one of the Goats were carved by Guadalupe Vadon Ochoa, this week’s featured carver, while the third was the work of another highly familiar hand, that of Pablo Pacheco. I was very pleased to obtain these three then anonymous masks, not only because masks from Sinaloa are not commonly available on the market, but also because the Mountain Lion is an unusual subject for a Pascola mask, and the goat by Guadalupe is particularly charming. The Mountain Lion does explicitly appear in Yaqui Deer songs and is then portrayed in dance performance by Yaqui Pascola dancers. I assume that mountain lions also appear in Mayo Pascola dancing, although I have not found a specific reference for this in the Mayo dance literature. In the Unites States we call the Mountain Lion by various additional names—such as Cougar, Panther, Puma, and Catamount.
Here is the Mountain Lion Pascola mask.
The ears on this mask are very similar in style to the horns on an identified mask that appears later in this post.
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.