A Recent Ebay Purchase

Recently I purchased a green Bull Diablo from Guanajuato on EBay™. This was an unusual mask, because the former owner had “permanently attached” a brass pipe to the back of the mask with glue, for the purpose of suspending it from an oak board, apparently because the back edge seemed too fragile to hang it from the old strap mounting holes. He died, his wife was moving to another house, and she was uncertain how to deal with this mask. She offered it for sale with the pipe, the oak board, and a plastic case included. Although it was encumbered by the pipe et al, nevertheless I liked the color and the snakes, so I bought it, hoping that I could manage this problem. Here is the mask.

At this point I will turn the mask over and show you the brass pipe embedded in the back. It appears to be from a plumber’s stock.

This pipe would certainly prevent one from hanging this mask on a wall. In this photo the mask is in “treatment position.”

On reflection, I decided that the word “permanent” implied some heavy duty glue, such as epoxy, although the second possibility was that it was attached with hide glue. Epoxy can be melted with acetone, while hide glue requires heat, so I elected to begin by pouring some acetone into and around the pipe (since it would quickly evaporate without leaving any trace), before applying heat and risking damage to the old wood.  The pipe came loose in less than a minute’s time, and the acetone did not linger. Here is the result.

The pipe had been glued into wood that was strong and thick. The color of the base of the hole provides a good indication of the original color of the wood, which we now see was darkly stained from very long use. Let us look at the rest of the mask.

This mask apparently did require some repairs over the years. Particularly obvious is the amount of material covering the joint between the mask and its horns.

There are vision slits under the mirrors. A throat like opening in the back of the mouth provides an air passage for the dancer.

This mask is 12 inches tall, 6 inches wide without the horns, and 7½ inches deep. There are 10 inches between the tips of the horns.

Here is a final view of the back, after the pipe was removed. The old strap is made from rawhide. One can see pinholes in the lower back that indicate an old infestation with boring insects. All’s well that ends well!

I hope that you enjoyed reading about my adventure with this mask.

Next week I’ll share a head from an old wooden Saint.

Bryan Stevens

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