This character represents the Guatemalan National Hero, the Mayan Prince and General Tecún Umán. The legend tells that he fought against Pedro de Alvarado, the main Spanish Conquistador in the Battle of Quetzaltenango in 1524. Tecún Umán told his armies the following: “let us go to meet the Spaniards sounding the sacred conch shells to initiate the war, and let them see that these lands are not so easy to win, and it is vanity to think of vanquishing Quetzaltenango”. As he confronted Alvarado he injured his horse, believing they were one. Alvarado attacked him with his sword and killed him. During the Dance of the Conquest, at three o’clock, Tecún Umán dies; linking him to Jesus dying at the cross. The Quetzal Bird stands in his wounds and gets its red chest from the hero’s blood. A mask with blood stains and closed eyes is worn after this event. This piece has many layers of paint and the Quetzales decorating the forehead let us know that this piece was a Tecún Umán Mask. At the Morerías, they will transform characters into another mask just by painting the traditional details of the piece they need. In this case, they transformed this piece into a Spanish Conquistador by painting the skin in soft orange and blond hair.Notice the painted eyebrows and moustache carvings. The skin has many fallen off sections caused by the many festivities it has gone through. Patina on the back denotes use.
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Age: Approximately carved in the 1930’s.
Ethnic Group: K’iché
Origin: Chichicastenango, El Quiché
Use: Dance of the Conquest
Technique: hand carved at a Morería
Size: Approximately 7” x 5” x 7”