In the Mexican world of mask making, Felipe Horta is a master. I purchased this mask directly from him when I was working in the early 1990s at the University of New Mexico Latin American Institute. Already he was internationally renowned for creating amazing dance masks. From an article about the artist: "Felipe is a mask-maker, or mascarero, from Tocuaro, Michoacan, Mexico. He has dedicated himself since the age of 12 to producing masks for the pastorela (Shepherd's Tale) danzas, which are performed in his community and throughout Michoacan. Blending venerable allegory with symbols and scripts from popular culture, these dynamic performances that discuss and depict faith, sin, and salvation, also comment upon the joys and struggles of everyday life in contemporary Mexico. Felipe has introduced innovative, fine sculpting techniques into the thriving, vibrant art of mask making, and his exquisite masks are embraced and sought after by dancers and others in his community. Pavel Shlossberg, a scholar who has conducted ethnographic research in Felipe's community and nearby regions, wrote an article 'James Carey, the Devil and his Masks, Journalism and the Shepherd's Play in Michoacan, Mexico', in which he describes how pueblos all over Michoacan and through rural Mexico have their own particular fiesta days, and during these special, holy days, many members of the village community will celebrate communion together, and feast together, and also attend pastorela plays, or perhaps some other morality/mystery plays, which are performed during the fiesta each year. Pavel observed that in Tocuaro and in many other pueblos throughout Mexico, artisans carve some diabolic masks and some saintly masks each year, which are lent and sold to local dancers. Felipe has long contributed to these productions, as he has been carving for most of his life, having learned the skill from his father, noted mask-maker Eustacio Horta Castillo, when he was young." This particular mask is a bearded man, which is a nod to the Spaniards who invaded and "colonized" indigenous peoples starting in the 16th centuries. The dances that take place reenact the Conquest of the Americas, and this would represent that Spaniard. The fact that it is unpainted makes it elegant and perhaps even more appealing, as one can see the detailed work in carving out hairs of the beard. The wood is light and soft, likely pine with small knots and age rings. Horta's works of this size fetch between $500-800.
The mask measures about 10-1/2" tall by about 7" wide across and extends about 6" from the wall. In good condition.
Folk art of bespoke beauty.
Please convo with questions, or call (505) 369-6865. Will return your call as soon as possible.
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