DESCRIPTION: An artful and flamboyant Mexican festival vaquero (cowboy / cattle driver) dance mask, the face carved from wood and painted with a black beard and bright red cheeks. Attached to the head is an elaborate tin “crown” with wide bull horns and flamboyant decorative headdress of double cut and pierced tin flowers. Embellishing the horns are rows of long, brightly colored ribbons. This mask would have been a festive, celebratory costume worn during the Dance of the Vaqueros, and is in very good condition.
DIMENSIONS: 36.75" H (not including ribbons) x 25.5" W x 5.5" D (93 x 65 x 14 cm). PROVENANCE: Bob Brand and Liz Werthan, Philadelphia, PA.
CULTURAL BACKGROUND: The use of masks in Mexico can be traced as far back as 3000 BC to pre-Hispanic culture. With Spanish colonization, masks were used to educate indigenous people on the Christian faith through dramatic presentations. As the two cultures fused, the imprint of each was recorded in masks as part of the tradition of the village festival, honoring saint's days and major Christian holidays, and used in elaborately scripted dance dramas involving music, song, and feasting, lasting for several days. Participants fulfill religious vows by their involvement, while the dances educate and inform the community of shared values and concerns.