Three Archareos From Guerrero

Donald Cordry introduced many  collectors to Archareo (archer)masks in his well known book, Mexican Masks (1981, pp 232-4). The Archareos perform a variation of the Conquest dance, which is of course itself modeled on the Moros y Cristianos. All these dances have the common theme of Spanish Christians versus some opponent, such as Moorish outsiders or indigenous peoples.

Victor José Moya Rubio included two Archareo traditional wooden masks and headdresses, one from Colotepec and the other from Pueblo Viejo, in Máscaras: La Otra Cara de México/ Masks: The Other Face of Mexico, Plates 54 and 55, on page 63. He also showed Archareo masks from San Martin Teotihuacan, in the State of Mexico, where Santiago wears a mask cast in lead and the Archareos wear masks made from painted and folded felt hats. A beautiful Archareo mask with headdress from Pueblo Viejo, Guerrero decorates the cover of El Tierra y El Paraíso, a catalogue of masks in the collection of Rafael Coronel (1993, pp. 20-21). In Changing Faces: Mexican Masks in Transition,on page 69 (plate 102) there is a classic Red-faced Archareo mask that has been paired with the white headdress of Santiago or one of the Christians (provenance unknown), and on page 59 there is another of those Santiago masks cast in metal. These metal masks include headdress elements that are part of the casting. Here  is a link to a photo of a mask in this metal style. This mask, however, is virtually identical to another in Mask Arts of Mexico, by Ruth Lechuga and Chloë Sayer, plate 96 on page 69, which the authors state is constructed from fiberglass and resin, plus tin for the headdress.

Today I will share three traditional wooden Archareo masks like the one from “Cacalotepec” in Cordry, the ones from Pueblo Viejo in  La Tierra y El Paraíso, and those in Moya Rubio’s book, along with three headdresses. These masks and headdresses were collected in Guerrero by a picker or “runner” for Robin and Barbara Cleaver. I am uncertain whether the runner had recorded which mask went with which headdress. It seems obvious that the white “Christian” masks would have been worn with white headdresses bearing a cross and the red Moro masks would be worn with other headdresses that lacked a cross. It only later became apparent to me that there was variety in the white masks and their headdresses.

In May, 1988, Robin and Barbara Cleaver had sold me a handsome pair of Archareo masks, one a white faced Christian mask with a headdress topped by a cross, and the other a maroon mask with no cross on the headdress. Here is the white mask.

In the years that followed, I compared this mask to a few other Archareo Christian masks from this area, and realized that mine was unusual, in that it had an oval goatee that framed the usual snouted mouth. Indeed, it has an elegant abstract goatee; I never saw another one like it, over nearly 30 years time. I concluded that this mask, bearded among so many that are beardless, might represent Santiago. To state this in another way, Mexican Santiago masks in general usually have beards, while most Archareo masks do not.

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Moro Masks From the Mexican State of Guerrero 1

This week I shift my attention to Moro masks from Guerrero. Once again I will begin with a trio of masks that appear to be by the same hand, and collected from the same town, in this case Altamirano, Guerrero. I purchased the first two from René Bustamante in April, 1994, and the third one on EBay eleven years later, in November, 2005. This mask came with a name—Mahoma (Muhammad), who would have served as the leader of the Moros in the Altamirano version of the Dance of the Moros y Cristianos.

In a YouTube™ video from Altamirano in 2017 we find Mahoma wearing a mask just like this one, along with a black lunar headdress like those seen in the State of Mexico and a black cape that is covered with stars. He is accompanied by a similarly dressed small boy who is wearing a mask like the third one in today’s post. The boy evidently represents Mahoma’s son ( seen for instance at 11:30). Later Mahoma clashes swords with Santiago, the leader of the Christians, who is wearing his usual horse on his waist (17:30).

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Moro Masks From the State of Mexico VI

Today will end my discussion of Moro masks from the State of Mexico. I’ll begin with a mask I meant to include in last week’s post, but it was hidden in a box; I could picture it in my mind’s eye and finally I found it, after I had given up all hope! This mask will be followed by a threesome that was found in Apatlaco, in the Municipio of Amecameca, Estado de Mexico. Unfortunately I was unable to find any YouTube™ videos that included masks like these in Apatlaco, Amecameca, or in el Estado de Mexico. Yet here they are, variations on what was undoubtedly an established design, decades ago. I bought the trio from René Bustamante, one by one, in 1994. He was of the opinion that they dated to the 1940s or 50s.

Here is my lost and found Moro. Although I bought this from Robin and Barbara Cleaver in 1994, it had earlier been in the collection of Jaled Muyaes and Estela Ogazón, and probably they sold it to the Cleavers. It came with little information, simply “a Moro from the State of Mexico.” It is old, probably circa 1950 or earlier, but the age is difficult to estimate with precision because it is glazed with the residue of some solvent or varnish, probably applied by Jaled to treat an insect infestation. It is marked with a number from the 1981 mask show in Mexico city.

This mask is unusual for the shelf over the brows.

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Moro Masks From the State of Mexico V

Today I will continue to present Moro masks from the State of Mexico. We will look at four different examples, all variations on a traditional generic design. The first of these has an articulated jaw, while the other three lack this feature.

I purchased the first mask from René Bustamante in 1994.  Its town was not identified, but it was from the State of Mexico. A very similar Moro mask from the collection of the International Folklore Museum in Santa Fe, New Mexico, is illustrated in Barbara Mauldin’s  valuable book—Tigers, Devils, and the Dance of Life: Masks of Mexico (p. 70). That old  mask, which had been obtained from the Cordry collection, was said to date to the early 20th century, from an undocumented town in the State of Mexico. I would think that this one is from the middle of the 20th century.

I particularly like the cross-hatching of the beard below the articulated jaw.

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Moro Masks From the State of Mexico IV

Today we will continue to look at Moro masks from the State of Mexico, two with red faces while the third has a flesh colored complexion. I bought this first one from René Bustamante in 1994. It was said to be a Moro Pasion mask from Tlatepec, in the State of Mexico, but I could not find such a place, except for an imposing mountain of that name. Maybe it is actually from Santiago Tlacotepec? It reminds me of red Moro masks from Guerrero.

This is a wonderful mask. I particularly like the figure eight shaped mouth (or beaked mouth), which suggests the emotion of terror. This is another example of the observation that Moor masks are sometimes depicted with expressions of fear, as if they view their Christian opponents as particularly powerful. After all, the Moros y Cristianos Dance was brought to the new world as an educational device, to assist the missionaries as they preached the power of the Christian God.

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Moro Masks from the State of Mexico III

Two weeks ago I began a series of posts about Moro masks from the State of Mexico with a pair from the 1970s. To my surprise and pleasure, current Youtube™ videos demonstrated the persistence of those masks  in contemporary fiestas, complete with their lunar headdresses. However, in last week’s blog I showed a trio of mid-century Moor masks of a design that had apparently been eclipsed by more modern and elaborate models. Earlier local mask designs seem to have had two possible fates—either they persisted and became more popular due to their strengths or they contributed traits and details in varying degrees towards a patchwork regional design. The lunar headdresses, for example, seem to have spread widely to other towns and inspired other novel headdresses. Today I will show another group of older Moro masks that are probably no longer in popular use. These three do not look at all alike, except that they all have white faces, and I have added on another white mask that is certainly rare, a Calavera (skull) mask that was also found in the Estado de Mexico.

The first Moro, which I purchased from Robin and Barbara Cleaver in 1988, came with its original tin crown. Instead of an ordinary articulated jaw it had something far more interesting—an articulated goatee. It was found in Amatepac, Municipio of Tempilco, State of Mexico, and it was said to represent the Roman emperor Tiberio in the Moors and Christians dance. There is a nearly identical mask illustrated in Mauldin’s book, Tigers, Devils, and the Dance of life (1999, page 71); the Museum of International Folklore had bought that mask from René Bustamante, and it was said to have been collected in San Pablo de las Salinas, also in the State of Mexico.

In Amatepec videos, the Moro dancers have pink faced masks and some wear gigantic lunar headdresses. I did see one white mask that appeared to resemble our first mask, except that it had a beard made from animal hair instead of an articulated wooden goatee (at 3:45). I did not find a relevant video from Salinas.

Here is the Emperor Tiberius/ Tiberio, with his tin crown. He would have been one of the Moorish leaders in the dance.

Here also is his flapping goatee.

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More Masks of Moros (Moors)from the State of Mexico

Last week I began a series of posts about Moro masks from the State of Mexico, the state that surrounds Mexico City. I had a pair of masks from about 1970, and miraculously, I found a Youtube™ video demonstrating that such masks were still in use in their traditional setting, nearly 50 years later. Today we will examine other Moro masks from that era.

Today’s trio of Moro masks all appear to be by the same hand. They are of three different sizes and the middle sized one seems less worn, while the other two could easily date to the 1940s. Despite their differences in size, they confirm one another as representatives of a type. I bought all three from René Bustamante, two, in August of 1993, which were found in Atlacomulco, and the third, from Agua Fria, in April of 1994. Such masks do not appear in recent video performances from either town. I discovered a fourth example in this style in a valuable reference book—Museo Nacional de la Máscara: Catálogo— a catalogue of the masks in the collection of Victor Moya Rubio (no date, page 108, plate 371). This near duplicate was said to be from San Pedro del Limón, State of Mexico. That town is about 150 miles south of Atlacomulco; these masks really travel! A Youtube video of the Moros y Cristianos of Limón in 2015 shows a variety of Moro dancers, some withe Lunar headdresses, some with conical headdresses, and others with crowns. Their masks are larger than today’s trio, with very large noses.

And here is yet another example of this type, from Pinterest™.

Here is the largest, complete with a helmet made of galvanized tin that René Bustamante supplied as appropriate for this mask; I believe that the mask was collected without any headdress.

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Masks of Moros (Moors)from the State of Mexico

La Danza de Los Moros y Cristianos (the Moors and Christians dance) is popular in Mexico, having been introduced there by the Spanish shortly after their conquest of this region. There is a variation of this dance drama that is called La Danza de Los Santiagueros, and it can sometimes be difficult to tell them apart. The introduction of the Moors and Christians dance by the missionaries was clearly meant to impress the Indians of New Spain with the power of the Spanish conquerors, which was said to be based on their close relationship with the Christian God. In my view, the Indians of Mexico subtly transformed the Moors and Christians dance and the Santiagueros dance to serve their rather different purpose, which was apparently to covertly appeal to God for rescue from the Spanish, who abused them. I wrote about this in detail in my book—Mexican Masks and Puppets: Master Carvers of the Sierra de Puebla. Briefly, in the Indian version of these dances the Moors (the “bad” guys) secretly represent the Spanish, the Christians secretly represent the Indians, and a third group pretend to be allied with the Moors but are secretly allied with the Indians. I tell you this because in a video that follows the first photo, there is evidence of such an arrangement in San Pablo Tejalpa,

In el Estado de Mexico (the State of Mexico, the state with Mexico City at its center), the Christians are often led by a Santiago figure wearing a wooden horse or part of one at waist level, similar to what we find in the Santiagueros dance. A notable difference is that the Santiaguero  dancers often wear masks, while their Christian counterparts often wear costumes without masks. Santiago himself seldom wears a mask in either dance.

Today we will begin with Moro masks used in the Moros y Cristianos dance from San Pablo Tejalpa, a town in the Municipio of Zumpahuacán, in el Estado de Mexico. There is a good dance photo of these dancers in Moya Rubio’s book, Máscaras: la otra cara de méxico/ Masks: The Other Face of Mexico, third (bilingual) edition (1986, p. 105) and another of the mask and headdress worn by the Moro dancers, this one with an articulated jaw (p.106). That author took those undated photos in San Felipe Tejalpa, which is evidently a very small town near San Pablo; I can’t find it on a map. However in the text (p.121), Moya Rubio stated that these masks were from San Pablo Tejalpa.

I bought this first mask and headdress from René Bustamante in 1994. It was said to be from San Augustin, Estado de Mexico, but I believe it was actually made in San Pablo Tejalpa. It probably dates to the 1970s.

The “lunar” headdress, made of paper mache over a reed frame, is a symbolic representation of the new moon, a Moorish image.

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Catrin Masks From Tlaxcala, Mexico

In Donald Cordry’s book—Mexican Masks (1980, page 26, figure 29)—we see nine Carnival masks from the Mexican State of Tlaxcala, three of leather, while the other six were finely carved from wood. The dance figure who wears such a mask is often referred to as a Catrin, a word that means  “dandy.” The wearer(s) can also be called a Paragüero (umbrella holder) or a Cuadrilla (gang or crew). Under such names the wearers of these masks dance during Carnaval.

Three of the wooden masks in Figure 29 had eyelids that could be opened or shut by the dancer pulling a string. On page 104, plate 147 of Cordry’s book, we find a photo of Carlos Reyes Acoltzi, of Tlatempan, Tlaxcala, with two of his sons, taken in 1971. The caption for that image states that Carlos was a santero, a carver of saints, and a mascarero as well (mask carver). Carlos had carved four of the wooden masks shown in figure 29, including the three with mechanical eyelids.

The religious orders in Mexico, such as the Dominicans, the Augustinians, and the Jesuits, trained Indians in their congregations to be the artisans and craftsmen. Thus Indians were taught to create the wooden statues portraying God, Angels, Devils, and the European Christian saints for display in their churches. It was natural for these santeros to become the makers of dance masks used in religious fiestas, and for those carvers to create masks with the beautiful faces of the saints or the dreadful faces of the Diablos. This practice continues to the present day, and I provided several examples of Santeros who were also mask makers in my book—Mexican Masks and Puppets: Master Carvers of the Sierra de Puebla.

Today we will look at six of these beautiful Catrin masks. I will begin with a pair that appeared in my post of August 18, 2014, to illustrate the level of quality of the traditional masks in Cordry’s book (in contrast to other masks there that were invented, falsely labeled, and therefor “decorative”). I had purchased these masks from Robin and Barbara Cleaver in 2000. They believed that the two were carved in the 1930s or 1940s, and that their doll’s eye movements had been imported from Germany in the 1930s.

These Catrin masks have the beautiful faces of saints. The paint on the face of this mask is obviously worn. If the string that hangs under the beard is pulled, then the eyelids will close.

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Chivo Masks From Guerrero

In The Eye of the Sun:Mexican fiestas, published in 1997, there is a nice photo of masked dancers performing the Danza de los Chivos (goats) in Zitlala, Guerrero. Such photos are otherwise uncommon in mask books, but increasingly available on the Internet. Today I will show two Chivo masks. Each is unusual for having horns painted or carved in relief on the mask plus a long sisal headress with an attached pair of goat horns—two sets of horns.

A YouTube™ video of Chivos from Quechultenango, a town near Tixtla and Mochitlán, reveals a variety of characters, including Chivos with horned headdresses but also Diablas or Diablitas (female devils) wearing the same headdresses with horns (see discussion of Diablas in my post of December 4, 2017). So, dances which I had regarded as centering on Diablas are at least sometimes actually named for the Chivos, who may be Diablos called by another name?

Here is another video, apparently also from Quechultenago. Several of these dancers are wearing Chivo masks with horns along with a sisal headdress with a second set of horns.

This third link is from Zitlala. These Chivos have prominent horns on their headdresses while they lack representations of horns on their masks.

Here is the first of these mask/headdress combinations. (231). I bought this mask from John Kania and Joe Ferrin of Santa Fe in 1994. It was said to be from Tlapehuala, Guerrero.

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