Whimsical Coconut Masks

I have been building my collection of Coconut masks since 2014 and it is one of my favourite folk arts. They are known in Spanish as Mascaras de Coco and represent colorful faces, animals, suns, vegetables and flowers.  Made by Nahati artists who live in the Mezcala region of the State of Guerrero, Coconut shell masks have been made in Mexico since the 1950's.  The first masks were based on the Guerrero State traditional masks such as the jaguar and a devils face but you can now pick up a pig, a flower or even a strawberry. Using their traditional craft skills such as wood carving, clay work and painting they cleverly used this waste product to produce these fun and fantastic faces to sell in the markets. 

Once the coconuts have been gathered from the coastline, they are cut in half, cleaned and left to soak in water for 10 to 15 minutes. The outside of the shell is then scraped and cleaned with a knife, then sanded until its surface becomes smooth. The masks are then shaped using clay, and decorated with cactus spines, seeds or dyed ixtle, a fibre from the Agave plant.. Once the mask is shaped and the clay has dried acrylic paint is used to cover the coconut shell and decorate it.