Object of the Month


Caricature mask, Mexico


Caricature mask, Mexico

Spanish colonizers introduced new festivals and morality plays to Mesoamerica in the 16th century to teach the new Christian faith and emphasize Christian superiority. Masks like this one fuse an older pre-Columbian tradition of caricature dance masks with the imported stories of Spanish victories over the Moors in Spain and the Indians in America. Still performed today, ‘conquest dances’ feature masks satirizing historical, outsider figures familiar to the people. This painted wooden mask, with white china teeth and eye-slits for eyebrows, probably represents Pedro de Alvarado, a Spanish conquistador and governor of Guatemala in the1530s. It is part of a collection of 300 objects from Mexico and Guatemala donated to the Museum by Elsie Colsell McDougall between 1946 and 1961: PRM 1951.11.13

Find the mask on display high up in the Court as part of the VERVE: Need / Make / Use project.

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