Urmston Carnival Bulls

Today we will look at some more masks from the Urmston collection—Torito (Bull) masks from the area of Alta Lucero, Veracruz. Apparently this is a very popular category, as every one of these masks has already been sold. I apologize for the quality of these images, as some of the masks are not well illuminated and at least one is not well focused. These are scans from slides that were taken 35 years ago; it is far easier now to obtain sharp and well lit images with digital cameras.

Dancers wearing Torito masks dance in Alta Lucero during Carnaval (Carnival or Mardi Gras). The first is nicely carved and has a typical design.


According to a website about Alta Lucero, dancers wearing bull masks perform in “Las Danzas de Negros (Negreada),” but there is little further explanation.


The second Torito illustrates the tendency to sometimes attach a mirror to the forehead of these masks.



The third Torito is well carved  and worn from heavy use.



The fourth Torito is another classic example.



The fifth Torito has a wonderful painted design,, but it is out of focus in this view. You have the opportunity to see this mask in a more flattering photo on the Colonial Arts website, where it is currently for sale. There you will see that the word “elvensed” is painted on the right ear of the bull.




The last mask introduced an important aspect of the decoration of Alta Lucero Torito masks—they often carry some painted word or phrase, usually painted on the forehead or the horns. You will see this on the next five masks.


On this Torito is “El Cuervo” (the crow or raven).


This one says “Solaso” (alone).



The next procalims itself as “La Mula Loca” ( the crazy she-mule).



This one is “El Peque yo Toro” (The Kid me bull—I am your little bull?).



And this one has “El sobre tuyo.” (your envelope or your address?).



The last mask is either a Torito mask that has lost its horns or perhaps it is a burro.


This is an old and wonderful mask.


Next week I will present more masks from the Urmston collection, all from Veracruz. That will be my last post that focuses on the Urmston masks.

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