Masks of the state of Sonora

Las Pascolas and El Venado, Yaquis de Sonora

One of the most deeply rooted traditions of the Yaqui and Mayan communities is the dance of the Pascolas and El Venado, a ritual of pre-Hispanic origin for the pediment of rains, which the Jesuit missionaries used in the 16th century during their evangelizing work in the North of Mexico, especially in Sonora and Sinaloa.

The missionary model prohibited the inclusion of profane manifestations, however, as it did not have the military support to Christianize more than 60,000 indigenous people, the friars decided to adapt them to the Catholic precepts, and little by little they spread throughout the region.

The dance of the Pascolas and El Venado has been practiced for more than three centuries for the pediment of rain and the flourishing of the mountain world, this cultural manifestation is the only identity element shared by the groups of the region. According to their worldview, Los Pascolas (the elders of the party) were evil beings, children of the devil, but God won them in a game, while the deer is a primal and benign being, according to the myth.

This conception is manifested in the dress of the dances; the pascolas wear a belt with twelve bells representing the twelve apostles and the mask has the cross painted, while their legs are surrounded by cocoons of butterflies, which symbolize the rattlesnakes. Mayos and Yaquis entangle black or multicolored laces on their legs. Some represent the sharp viper and the others the coralillo, and in their head they carry a flower to symbolize the rebirth of the juya ania, (world of the mountain) time in which the desert is covered with wild flowers.

The masks with long beards and eyebrows, made from horsehair to symbolize an old man, give the freedom to the pascolas to mock the rezanderos, governors and in general of the whole community in eschatological or sexual terms, a situation very sanctioned by the internal normativity, but that the dancer is allowed, although at the end of his interpretation he apologizes for his acts.

The dance of the deer symbolizes life itself, the flower world - the heaven of the Catholics - and represents humanity in a magical world, that is why they carry flowers on their heads. Both pascolas and deer dance in a ramada in front of the temple, when it is a community party, and in a ramada built inside a plot, when it is familiar.

Los Fariseos, Mayos

The Pharisees represent the "Jewry" that imprisoned and killed Jesus, they are Mayan men who make a "command" to receive a miracle or a favor from the divinity. For this, he makes the sacrifice during Lent, they travel throughout the region during these forty days wearing his mask of wood and goat leather (with Spanish features).

They are covered with blankets and white blankets, on the legs are wrapped strips of "tenabaris" which are butterfly cocoons that when walking or dancing make noise, wear sandals and also carry wooden weapons, paint their hands red to represent the blood of Christ.

Thus, with all this clothing, they go from house to house, from town to town, simulating the Pharisees, dancing for money they collect to organize the parties. They do not speak they communicate to signs they do not remove the mask in front of strangers.