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About this collection

This is the fourth largest collection of Mexican masks in the United States; this collection was assembled by William J. Breitenbach between 1968 -2004. The masks, which represent human faces, animal faces, or skulls are constructed of wood, ceramic, paper mache or leather. Most are brightly painted in a polychrome technique, some with incredibly detailed designs. Many are enhanced with quills, fur, hair, teeth, fabric, or wool.

These masks were used in festivals such as:

  • Cinco de Mayo
  • Semana Santa (Holy Week)
  • Los Dias de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead)
  • Danza de Moros e Cristianos (Dance of the Moors and Christians)
  • Danza el Borrgo Cimarron (Dance of the Wild Sheep)
  • Danza de Parachicos (Dance of the Parachicos)
  • Danza de Tigres (Dance of the Jaguars)
  • Carnival de Huejotzingo (Carnival of Huejotzingo)

Breitenbach traveled throughout the nation of Mexico. He bought masks from well-known mask makers, undiscovered artists, and apprentices, giving his collection great variety.

 

Mexican states represented in the collection include:

  • Chiapas
  • Guanajuato
  • Guerrero
  • Mexico
  • Michoacan
  • Morelos
  • Oaxaca
  • Puebla
  • Queretaro
  • Tlaxcala
  • Vera Cruz

 

 

 
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