Guatemalan Mask Exhibition

By vira

The Embassy of Guatemala in Indonesia is holding a showcase titled “Guatemalan Mask Exhibition”. Around thirty colourful masks are displayed in the multifunction room of the embassy, located on the 16th floor of World Trade Center 1, Jakarta. The exhibition opened on 7 September 2023 and will run until further notice.

H.E. Jacobo Cuyún giving an opening speech at the exhibition

Guatemalan masks have been present since pre-Hispanic times. They had a religious significance in Mayan times as the masks were a transforming element to the wearers in folkloric dances. Today Guatemalan families keep the masks as treasures and some can also be seen in the museums. Newer masks are still being made by artisans and become desired decorative element in homes and other places.

Masks of an ox, toucan, coyote, cow and crocodile from the Coastal Dance that represents the selling and buying of cattle and other farm animals.

Indonesia Design was invited to the opening of the exhibition and had a chance to talk with H.E. Jacobo Cuyún, the ambassador of The Republic of Guatemala to Indonesia.

iD: Why is ‘mask’ chosen to be the theme of the exhibition?

H.E. Jacobo Cuyún: It is one of our ways to show that even though Guatemala and Indonesia are two countries that are very far apart geographically, we have some things in common. [Referring to Indonesia’s own traditional mask culture]

H.E. Jacobo Cuyún and spouse Maritza De Cuyún hosted the opening of the exhibition, attended by friends and acquaintances of the embassy

iD: Is this event a part of a series of your cultural programme? And could you tell us about the other events in the series?

H.E. Jacobo Cuyún: Since the establishment of our embassy here in 2019, we’ve had a few exhibitions, namely the photo exhibition of Semana Santa and the photo exhibition of Guatemalan traditional clothes. And today, as you know, the mask exhibition. In the future, we’re hoping to exhibit some huipils, which is the traditional blouses and dresses of Guatemalan women.

We’d like to bring in the huipils because they have so much in common with some of Indonesian textiles, such as the woven patterns. And what’s more interesting is that the process of making huipil involves a weaving device similar to the ones used in Indonesia. So, this is what we are trying to do now.

In the future, I’m looking forward to bring in the Mayan artefacts from Guatemala. We will look into collaborating with the National Museum of Indonesia or other institutions. I really believe that cultural activities can make people understand and learn from each other.

Masks from the Jaguar Dance, a way for the ancient Mayans to connect with nature and the gods. Jaguar is considered sacred in Mayan mythology.
Masks from the Dance of the Flying Palo in the forms of monkey masks.

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