Mexico

Guerreo Jaguar mask - Zitlala, early 1900's
Guerreo Jaguar mask - Zitlala, early 1900's

Guerreo Jaguar mask,  Zitlala

 

This style of Tigre (Mexican colloquial for Jaguar) mask is from Zitlala, Guerrero, they are used on the feast day of the Holy Cross on May 3rd, 4th,
and 5th. As part of the activities, men from different barrios put on jaguar costumes and carry out fierce fighting competitions that involve beating
each other over the head with knotted rope. Although this is very rugged for the participants, the fighting is considered a crucial aspect in petitioning
the deities for rain during the spring planting season. The impressive masks are made in leather and worn over the head to protect the wearer from
injury. The leather is painted green or yellow, depending on which barrio of town the participant is from.

The celebration of the Holy Cross is a ceremony during which offerings of pain are propitiated. Mountain, roadside and village crosses are adorned
with flowers and various offerings of fruit, bread, poultry, and more. Although this celebration is based in Christianity, the tradition of leaving offerings
in return for miracles or blessings from the god(s) has its roots in pre-hispanic times. In Guerrero, this festival is closely tied to Tlaloc, the rain god.
An important part of the festival in Acatlán centers around the Ahuehuete tree, a sacred tree because anywhere this tree grows water will be found.
The Nahua Guerrerense honor the tree and its spring with a procession and a variety of offerings. Here, the jaguar known as the Tecuane appears.
Richly detailed costumes and masks enhance the drama of the Tecuane fights, a form of propitiation."

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