A Quick Review of a Masterful Book
Review by: Vernon Kostohryz of Border Antiques
Mexican Masks and Puppets
Master Carvers of the
Sierra de Publa
Bryan J. Stevens
Publisher: Schiffer Publishing Ltd., Atglen PA
Book Seller: Several. Click here for book's
listing on amazon.com
have been intensely involved with the collection and trade of antique
Mexican masks for many years. I have observed that even large museums
have been easily fooled by a proliferation of masks that are not
authentic ceremonial dance masks. There is evidence that even the
authors of some books, either through ignorance or personal gain, have
reinforced the trade of masks that were, and are, carved in a
spectacular fashion exclusively for the tourist trade.
Since my own mask collection efforts have been largely in the Mexican
highlands of the states of Puebla and Veracruz, I have acquired enough
knowledge of the carvers there, both past and present, to be convinced
of the authenticity of the masks in this book that have been so
The author has developed a unique and objective rating system that he
explains in detail and applies throughout much of the book. Several
pages are devoted to the objective evaluation a good mask. He
awards stars within a rating scale of 0-6. Better masks are awarded
more stars and by extension are more valuable monetarily if you are
attempting to assign a monetary value.
The section devoted to puppets included in the dance ceremonies of the region is also unique.
This book by Dr. Stevens is destined to become the most significant
source available for detailed and accurate information about a
previously neglected region for mask enthusiasts.
In short, this is a beautiful book, both from a visual and an
intellectual perspective. It sets a new standard for literature
in the field.
Vernon R. Kostohryz