A rare early 20th century cedar wood payaso (clown) mask from Latacunga, Ecuador.
Each year in the city of Latacunga, Ecuador, just south of Quito at the foot of the Cotopaxi volcano, a popular annual celebration takes place called 'La Fiesta de la Mama Negra'. The celebration, a syncretism of Andean, Aymara, Pagan and Catholic ideology and religious beliefs, is held twice a year in honor of the Virgin of Merced. Shortly after the Spanish colonized Ecuador the Cotopaxi volcano erupted violently and when the people of Latacunga petitioned the Virgin of Mercy she answered their prayers and spared their city. In light of this miracle a festival was held in Latacunga twice each year to honor the Virgin of Merced.
Ecuadorean masks from the Mama Negra Festival can still be found today but they are rarely of a comparable quality to the example offered here. This payaso mask was hand chiseled, carved and shaped from a single cedar blank by a proficient Ecuadorian carver who was clearly a master of his trade. Furrowed dimples giving way to raised cheeks and a balanced elliptical symmetry represent a few of its more distinguishing features. Circa 1900 - 1920.
Dimensions: approximately 9.5 inches x 7 inches x 5 inches.
Condition: old native repair to underside of chin. Stable paint fissure. Scattered paint loss.
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