Rainforest Mask exhibition at Selby Gardens @ Sarasota Florida 2009.
Borucan mask-making was nearly lost as an art form. One man, Don Ismael Gonzalez, took it upon himself to re-invigorate the carving tradition by teaching it to a group of young boys. Today the new master carvers are the teachers of a new generation of apprentices.
There are three distinct styles of masks, each of which tells a specific story about Borucan culture.
The first is the Diablito, or devil mask, which comes directly from the festival El Jeugo de LosDiablitos. It is the most traditional, dating back to the Spanish occupation of the region.
The second is the Ecologica, featuring the plants and animals of the rainforest. These were originated by the new generation of artists concerned about the imminent threat to their culture form the destruction of their environment.
The third is the Combinados. These masks are a metamorphosis of both the Dialito and the Ecologica. They represent the coming together of the old traditions with the new generation.
All masks are original one of a kind designs carved from balsa wood and cedar. The artists use acrylic paint to adorn the balsa images and traditional hand-hewn tools to carve.
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