This authentic old wooden dance mask, hand carved in the form of a man's grinning face, was found in the area of Viejo Guerrero in the Mexican state of Guerrero. While it was collected in the 1950s, it's probably earlier than that. Painted in a pinkish-beige "flesh" color, the carved eyes with pupils and the bared upper teeth were painted white, which has aged to a cream shade. The deeply carved grooved "wrinkles" by the eyes and on the cheeks and forehead lend age to the face--this is a "viejo"--or old man--mask. There is an eyehole cut out above each eye, effectively forming eyebrows and enabling the dancer to see. Two holes punched out under the nose and the carved out mouth allow the wearer to breathe. The projecting part of the nose, by the way, was made separately and applied to the face.
The height of this mask is 8 inches, the width is 6 inches, and depth is 3 inches. There is a hole on each side and one at the top for hanging; the previous collector attached black wire cord, which we've left in place--it's easily removed. It could also be positioned on a mask stand to display on any flat surface. The mask came with an identifying tag on it, stating it was deaccessioned from a private collection; we'll send the tag along to the buyer of the mask.
This well-carved mask has been "danced"--that is, used in ceremonial dances--and shows the expected commensurate wear from that usage. Structurally sound, it has an age crack on the bottom of the chin and paint loss there also (see photograph #7). The rest of the paint is in good condition and thankfully, it does not appear to have ever been repainted. Marks of hand tools are evident on the back.
This old mask, created for local use rather than for tourists or decoration, is yet a decorative piece of Mexican folk art.