Ocumichu, Michoacán was our official destination yesterday. It was about an hour and a half drive from Patzcuaro, but of course we stopped at a number of places before we arrived there. But those adventures will be shared in another blog.
Where did these little guys come from? One legend tells us that one “little devil” traipsed through Ocumicho and pestered everyone and everything – he got into the trees and killed them; he entered the bodies of dogs, making them agitated and barking; then, he pursued people, making them sick or even driving them crazy. It occurred to someone to give the little devils a place of their own where they didn’t have to annoy everything around them: their “place” was in the form of clay and wood, which we see today. So when we see one of these pieces and we say, “That’s simply ENCHANTING!” it may not be too far from the truth….
Whatever the case, these little demons of Ocumicho have managed to transcend social and international barriers, peaking the curiosity of all of those who see them – they become absolutely irresistible. As a designer I was fascinated by the colors and intricate patterns on the masks and of course the quirky nature of the creator Antonio Victors.
Traditional masks are most commonly carved from wood, with various types used. The harvesting of this wood often falls under certain customs related to when and how the trees may be cut. The most common traditional wood is “zompantle” also called “palo bofo” or “colorín” (Erythrina coralloides) a plant of the legume family which yields a soft white wood often use for more artistic objects and has been associated with ritual since pre Hispanic times.
These are the masks that I purchased. I loved the fish and the bugs on my masks and they will have a special place in the studio.