Three Sinaloan Masks with Tags

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.

There are three crosses painted on the forehead.

As often in Sinaloa, there is no rim design.

The hair is attached in a ring around the face.

This mask is 9½ inches tall, 5½ inches wide, and 2½ inches deep.

The back is very mildly stained, so the mask may have had limited use.

The second mask, a Human Faced Pascola, was collected for Barney Burns by Roberto Ruiz in 1983.  An  old tag from the time of collection does not state how many years the mask was danced, but it does identify the carver as Beto Guicho, from Cinco de Mayo, Sinaloa. I purchased this mask from Gallery West, in Tucson, in 2018. I find it a terrific old mask.

Like the first, this mask too has the hair bundles attached in a ring around the face.

I like the interaction of the forehead cross with the rim design.

These hair bundles are thick.

This mask is 8 inches tall, 4¼ inches wide, and 2½ inches deep.

The back of this mask has significant staining from use. It could easily have been danced for a number of years.

The third mask, which was also collected for Barney Burns by Roberto Ruiz in 1983, was said to have been danced for 6 years, so it was made in about 1977. The tag appears to state that this mask was carved by Valentin Valenzuela. Like the last mask, I also purchased this one from the Gallery West, in Tucson, in 2018.

This red goat is simply carved and painted, but to my eyes it really packs a punch.

The original hair on this mask probably formed a ring around the face, judging from the pattern of holes, when seen from the back.

I believe that this is the original paint.

The nostrils on this mask are purely decorative; they do not extend through to the back of the mask.

This mask is 7 inches tall, 5 inches wide, and 2 inches deep.

When the back of a mask is painted, then one cannot assess wear on the basis of the usual measure, color change of the wood.

Here instead one sees how grimy and worn the paint is, particularly around the rim of the mask. The stained and tattered strap provides further testimony.

Next week we will look at a few more Sinaloa Mayo masks, but these will  lack an identified or attributed carver and came without any provenance.

Bryan Stevens

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