Camilo Álvarez Buitimea

This series of posts about Yoeme (Yaqui) Pascola masks began on July 4, 2016.

There is only one Yaqui carver whose masks could possibly compete with the unusual animal masks of Jesús Rodríguez Muñoz, and that is Camilo Álvarez Buitimea, the artist who carved that beautiful lizard mask in an earlier post. Here is a group of undanced masks by Camilo that includes this lizard. We will examine the other three masks today, along with two others by Camilo that were collected by Barney Burns and Mahina Drees as danced masks.


Do you have a favorite?

I will begin with the frog Pascola mask by Camilo Álvarez Buitimea.


With these orange eyes, bright green skin, and subtly carved mouth, this is an attractive mask.


There is a conventional rim design.


Camilo never includes a forehead cross on his made for sale Pascola masks.

This mask is 7½ inches tall, 5¾ inches wide, and 3 inches deep.


The backs of Camilo’s masks all look just like this one—carefully shaped and smoothly carved. The inscription on the back, by Barney and Mahina, is indistinct, “CAB, 5/??/Mexico.”  I purchased this mask in October, 2000. Camilo’s masks generally have glue painted over the string that locks the hair in place, as one can see on this mask.

This next mask, with a purple face that makes one think of eggplant, is identified by Barney and Mahina’s inscription on the back as a “badger.”


The eyes and teeth are painted yellow, a sharply contrasting color to the purple of the face.


This mask has delicate little ears.


The rim design is generic for Sonoran Yaqui masks, as are the white triangles under the eyes.

This mask is 8 inches tall, 5 inches wide, and 3 inches deep.


On the back, per Barney and Mahina—”CAB, 6-98, Mexico/Badger.”

Here is the blue parrot.


Isn’t this a terrific mask. A stylized red feather is painted next to the mouth.


looking at the profile of this mask, I am struck by the complexity of the sculpting of this face.


As usual for Camilo, there is no forehead cross on this made for sale mask.

This mask is 8 inches tall, 5 inches wide, and 3¼ inches deep.


The penciled date, 5/02, actually lies hidden under the paper tag.

Now I will finish this post with two masks by  Camilo that were collected by Barney Burns and Mahina Drees as “danced.” The first portrays a dog; I believe that it was already quite unusual when it was new, but since then it has been partially repainted. It was danced for two years.




We can notice four things about this back. First, it has the same shape and careful smoothing as any other back carved by Camilo. Second, the made for sale notation by Barney Burns and Mahina Drees is absent, because they collected this mask as danced. Third, the rim is stained along the top and bottom edges, as if it really was danced. Fourth, it has a decent strap of cotton cord, and this is also discolored from use. It was said to have been carved in 1999.

Here is a second mask by Camilo that was collected by Barney Burns and Mahina Drees as “danced.”


This is a fairly typical Yaqui human faced mask.


A forehead cross made up of four triangles has been repainted to convert it into a Maltese cross.


The back shows mild damage, but also considerable wear.


Next week we will look at some more of Camilo’s masks.

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