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Posts Tagged ‘masks’

A friend (who shall remain anonymous) was persuaded to model the mask I gave one of my sons for Christmas.

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It is the work of Apolinar Sosa, the son of distinguished carver Jesus Sosa Calvo and Juana Vicente Ortega Fuentes of San Martín Tilcajete.

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This mask won a prize and had actually been worn during the unique Carnaval celebration in the village.

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Don’t you love the tongue of dried chiles?

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I love the carved masks worn in many of the traditional dances in Mexico and, thus, made a bee-line to the current exhibition at the Palacio de Gobierno, Máscaras de Juxtlahuaca — part of the month-long celebration of Guelaguetza.

Most of the masks in the show are the work of  Alejandro Guzman Vera, a native of Santiago Juxtlahuaca in the Mixtec region of Oaxaca.  He was born in 1972 and, as a young child, made his first mask of cardboard and painted it with crayons.  At age 12, he carved his first wooden mask.  He went on to study at the Escuela Nacional de Artes Plasticas and has become one of the premier mask-makers in Mexico.  He has exhibited world-wide and is one of the honored Grandes Maestros del Arte Popular de Oaxaca, profiled in the book by the same name.  By the way, he is not only a mask-maker, but also an accomplished musician and is playing a role in the rescue of the traditional music of Juxtlahuaca.

(Click on an image to enlarge it and to enable a slideshow.)

Dancers from Santiago Juxtlahuaca will be performing the Danza de los Rubios in the morning Guelaguetza presentation on July 27 and will, no doubt, be wearing masks, cracking their whips, and jingling their spurs during the Procession of Delegations on the preceding Saturday.  For a glimpse at the Danza de los Rubios and to get a feeling for some of the music Alejandro Guzman Vera is involved in saving, here is a snippet from last year’s Guelaguetza performance:

Masks are donned not only for the Danza de los Rubios, but also for the Danza de los Diablos and the Danza del Macho, which are performed at various annual festivals in the region.  Once carved and painted, the wooden masks can be embellished with glass eyes and real animal teeth and horns of bulls, goats, or deer.  They are an amazing sight to see!

The Máscaras de Juxtlahuaca exhibition at the Museo del Palacio in Oaxaca city closes August 28, 2015.

(This blog post is especially for you, Jane and Ken!)

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In my last blog post, I mentioned Teotitlán del Valle does not go on Daylight Saving Time.  And, they are not alone!  As the article, Clocks don’t change where sun keeps time, most of Mexico didn’t adopt DST until 1996 and given the autonomy guaranteed to indigenous communities, “70% of the entire indigenous population of Oaxaca” have chosen to follow the sun — the “King of the Sky.”

Ojala, blogger buddy Chris (who doesn’t change his watch to DST either) and I will be returning to Teotitlán del Valle for the final day (into night) of the Baile de Los Viejitos, (the Dance of the Old Men) this time hosted by el quinto (5th) sección.  However, before we go, a few more scenes from Tuesday’s fiesta, put on by the segunda (2nd) sección.Viejito with cane

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I say, “ojala, ” because several marches and blockades are currently in progress throughout Oaxaca and on the carreteras into and out of the city.  Alas, the video I shot on Tuesday of the Baile de los Viejitos may be as close as I come to the dancing action until next year.

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It’s Carnaval time in Teotitlán del Valle.  Yes, I know, Easter was last Sunday and Lent is over.  However, like many other things (e.g., not going on Daylight Saving Time), this Zapotec village does things their own way.  Thus, instead of celebrating Carnaval the day before Lent begins, they celebrate for the five days following Easter!  As I’ve written about previously, Carnaval in Teotitlán is a major production that indeed takes a village; young and old, female and male all have parts to play in the festivities that include music, masked men, mezcal, and mouthwatering mole.

Yesterday, rather than sitting with the men and scattering of male and female extranjeros, gal pal J and I hung out with the women and children in the outdoor kitchen that had been set up in the back of the large earthen courtyard.  There the women prepared enough chicken, mole amarillo, and tortillas to feed one hundred!

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The seemingly always well-behaved kids played and took care of the babies while their mamas and abuelas worked.

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Muchisimas gracias to the women and children of Teotitlán del Valle’s Segunda Sección for being so gracious and welcoming.

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It’s been one year since the passing of maestro Arnulfo Mendoza Ruíz.

Tejedor de los sueños by Charles Barth

Tejedor de los sueños by Charles Barth (alas, with reflections from other pieces)

To honor his life, an exhibit of works by his friends, colleagues, and family was inaugurated at La Mano Mágica on March 13, 2015.

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His older son, Gabriel Mendoza Gagnier, curated this amazing collection of paintings, weaving, and artesanía.

Assisted by Arnulfo’s companion, Yukiko, the opening featured, not only amazing art, but also mezcal, tamales, and surprise entertainment by Carnaval dancers from San Martín Tilcajete, wearing masks carved by some of the well-known carvers from the village, including Inocenio Vásquez and Jésus Sosa Calvo.

Jésus Sosa Calvo had carved the signature entry sign for La Mano Mágica and recently, unasked, came by to freshen up the paint that had faded over the years under the intense Oaxaca sun.

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While, in the words of Manuel Matus Manzo,  Arnulfo Mendoza may have gone on “to meet the Jaguar and the god Murcielago,” the dreams of his magical hands remain.

Finally, this beautiful poem by Alberto Blanco from the exhibit’s catalog…

Mitades a Arnulfo

I
La mitad de la tierra
no sueña con la luna.
La mitad de la luna
no sueña con el sol.

Si la luna es la trama,
y si el sol es la urdimbre,
esa tierra es la tela
donde acaso se vive.

II
La vida es la comedia
ya la muerte es el drama,
pero el textil de siempre
es la urdimbre y la trama.

La mitad de la vida,
la mitad de la muerte:
una tela tejida
con un hilo de suerte.

 

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Carnaval in San Martín Tilcajete means devils…

Pirates and clowns…

Unknown creatures from the imaginative minds of their creators…

And these masterpieces from this village known for its wood carving…

Carnaval in San Martín Tilcajete also means men dressed as women, a mock wedding, and young men covered in motor oil running through the village with belts of cowbells ringing.  Stay tuned…

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Who were those masked men?

From the Guelaguetza desfile, July 19, 2014

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Another day… another celebration… another adventure!  Yesterday was Día de Carnaval (aka, Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras, Carnival), a day to let the good times roll before the sacrifices of the Lenten season.

As you have probably surmised, the Spanish brought the tradition to Mexico.  Like many other seasonal celebrations, it conveniently coincided with indigenous festivals celebrating the “lost days” of the Mesoamerican calendar, “when faces were covered to repel or confuse evil.”  Apparently, it caught on “because it was one time when normal rules could be broken especially with the use of masks to hide identities from the authorities.”

And so, off we went for Día de Carnaval in San Martín Tilcajete (28 km south of the city), a village known for its fancifully painted wood-carved alebrije and masks.  We are still doing May weather in March and, thus, it was hot and shade was in short supply.

In the morning, a bride and groom were chosen, villagers gathered for a boisterous and hilarious ceremony in the courtyard, they danced, and then all processed through the streets of San Martín Tilcajete to a designated location where the happy “couple” knelt before a jolly looking “priest.”  By the way, those beautiful “women” in gorgeous gowns aren’t what they seem!

Young and old, the “guests” were a colorful crowd.  Many of the diablos and diablillos covered their faces with colored pigments and their bodies with red or black oil — rumor has it, motor oil is sometimes used.  Yuck!

I’d been to San Martín Tilcajete many times — to go from one workshop to another in search of the perfect alebrije for a gift or to add to my collection — but never before for Carnaval.  It was great fun and the photo ops were endless.

As they say in New Orleans, “Laissez les bons temps rouler!”

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