In 2007 I bought two Pascola masks from Sinaloa that lacked an identified carver, and they did not seem to have been carved by the same hand. I believe that both have been danced.
The first one is a Goat Pascola mask. The face was left unpainted, the features were painted black (with a red mouth), and a rim design was added with a transparent coating, a strange innovation in my experience. The brown area on the forehead appears to be a natural stain in the wood.
As you may recall, Goat Pascola masks are very commonly used in Sinaloa; goats may be the favorite mask style. I certainly find them charming, and on this mask I particularly like how the mouth and muzzle have been integrated by the paint.
This week I am grouping masks by three different Sinaloa carvers, all of which came to me with some identifying information.
I bought the first of these in about 1994, another mask from my friend, Tom Kolaz. I immediately dubbed this Dog faced mask “Snoopy,”™ after the famous George Schulz cartoon character. It was originally collected in the field by Barney Burns and Mahina Drees. Their notation on the back of the mask indicates that the carver was Anacleto Garcia Valenzuela, apparently from San Blas, Sinaloa. I have never seen another mask that was carved by Anacleto, but I have long enjoyed having this mask on my wall.
In October 2007 I purchased a pair of Pascola masks from Tom Kolaz, who stated that they had actually been danced together. The carver was Tirso Buitimea, of Capomos, Sinaloa. In contrast to the masks in the last two posts, these are neither basic nor raw in design, but rather they are inventive and sophisticated.
This one was said to represent the face of a bat. In the absence of this information, I would have thought it had the face of a dog.
In 2010 I purchased 14 masks from Tom Kolaz, 7 by Guadalupe Vadon Ochoa, which we saw last week, and 7 more by “Art G” (Aturo Garcia Gariola), which I will show you today. Both carvers worked in Sinaloa, but the later masks of Guadalupe are plain and utilitarian in their design, while those of Arturo are alarmingly vivid, as you will see, actually shocking when viewed within the Sinaloa Mayo context that we have been surveying. They are also more elaborately carved.
These masks were probably collected directly from the artist by Barney Burns and Mahina Drees in September of 1990, which was 20 years before I bought them from Tom. It was his impression that Arturo and Guadalupe had long since died. The masks by Arturo are mildly soiled on their backs, as if there might have been limited ceremonial use, but all have monofilament hanging lines, which don’t seem appropriate for dance use. Most of the hair bundles were destroyed by insects after the masks were collected by Barney and Mahina.
I was initially put off by the garish nature of this group of masks. Then, when I made the effort to focus on them, one by one and from various angles, I was surprised to discover how much I liked them. I will begin with one of the most vivid masks, although you may well have other nominations for this title.
Last week I displayed some masks by Guadalupe Vadon Ochoa. Today we will examine a few more.
At some time after I had received last week’s masks, I purchased others that seem less refined. I don’t know the reason for this change in his style. It could be that last week’s masks were carved to an individual dancer’s order while this week’s were made for sale, and perhaps to a lower price point.
I do not recall anything about the first of these. Maybe I found it on Ebay™? I believe that this mask represents a monkey. It is slightly more carefully carved than the group of documented masks that follow, so it might seem like a bridge between last week’s masks and these others.
One is impressed by the simplicity of this functional design.