Recently several good masks by the late Pedro Huerta Mora of Cuetzalan del Progresso, Puebla appeared on EBay™. One of those masks may still be available there. The one I purchased combined most of my favorite features by this man, whom I consider a great master carver. I have a number of his masks already, but I was glad to buy one more, and I realized that I had never included any of them in this blog, although I did feature Pedro and his masks in my book. Pedro was one of several men I discovered in Puebla and Veracruz whose primary occupation was the making of caskets; mask-making was something these mascareros did as a sideline. Along with caskets, Pedro also made elaborate wooden crosses that served as grave markers. His son has carried on this business (caskets and grave markers), but I don’t believe that he has ever made masks. Here is the mask that I purchased in May (2018) on EBay.
This mask might serve as more or less an encyclopedia regarding typical features favored by this carver. Although each of his masks is unique, you will have the opportunity to see other masks by Pedro that share one or another feature with this one, such as the unusual relief carved band across the bridge of the nose, the elaborate lip design, the scalloped beard, the eyes, nose, and mouth designs, and the presence of margin lines, edges, or shelves across or at the boundary of the cheeks. In this photo and the next, these margins look like horizontal shelves or cheek bones, although other masks have more subtle marginal lines.
The ears on Pedro’s masks are highly variable. In this side view, note the unusual humped nose and his characteristic curled lower lip.
The beard looks like a ring of flower petals. This mask is 10 inches tall, 7 inches wide, and 5 inches deep.
This mask was never danced. I prize it anyway.
Here the recent arrival is flanked by five other masks by Pedro that will be included in this post in multiple views. The mask to the immediate left of our index mask has several similar features and lacks others.
Here is that similar mask. It shares that raised band across the bridge of the nose, the scalloped beard, the bulging eyes, and teeth that resemble prison bars. I obtained this mask and the next from the carver’s son in 2006. Sadly, I didn’t meet Pedro then; he was apparently confined to his bed due to infirmity.
This mask differs from the first in other respects, with this red nose and applied ears. The landscape of the cheeks demonstrates scooped areas under the eyes that are similar to those on the first mask.
This nose has no hump. The medial ends of the mustaches are carefully shaped, and stand away from the nose, an unusual feature that I don’t recall seeing on any other mask.
These elevated ends remind one of the ends of the rectangular mustaches on the Moros Chinos masks.
This mask is 10 inches tall, 8 inches wide, and 5½ inches deep.
Both this mask and the next are probably undanced, although the wood has darkened after long exposure to ordinary air.
This mask was stained rather than painted.
We see the same curled lower lip, and similar scooped shelves under the eyes. The beard resembles the scalloped beard above, but it is more natural in its shape.
The eyes are characteristic. The nose is dramatic as usual, but different in design from those above.
This mask is 9 inches tall, 7½ inches wide, and 4½ inches deep.
This mask was certainly never danced.
I bought this mask from Vernon Kostohryz in 2008. It was found in Cuetzalan, but I didn’t initially know the name of the carver. This is an older and heavily used mask. It has Pedro’s characteristic stylized mouth. When I traveled in Puebla and Veracruz I saw others in his style that had been danced or were being danced.
I really like the sculptured hollow quality of the beard on this mask, framing the usual beautifully carved mouth.
Note the subtle curved line from the corner of the eye down to the corner of the beard.
This mask is 8 inches tall, 6½ inches wide, and 4½ inches deep.
This one has excellent wear on the back.
I bought the next mask from my friend, Carlos Moreno Vasquez, a Mexican antique dealer and picker, in 2008. It has that hollow beard and there are various cracks and old repairs.
There is a curved line around the sides of the face, which demarcates the cheeks from the temples.
This mouth has only a mild pouting lip.
The mask is 8 inches tall, 7 inches wide, and 5 inches deep.
It has profound staining from use.
I purchased this mask from the Gary Collison estate. We had been friends for years, with shared interests in folk art and folk music.
Note the subtle curving step from the corner of the eye down to the sideburns and mustache.
The beard is understated on this mask.
It is 6½ inches tall, 6½ inches wide, and 4 inches deep.
The back is darkly stained from heavy use.
Next week I will share some Yaqui and Mayo Pascola masks that I recently found on EBay.