Between January 15 to 23, residents of Chiapa de Corzo, Chiapas celebrate the festival Los Parachicos. The festival originated during colonial times when legend has it a women came to Chiapa de Corzo looking for a cure for her terrible ill son. She prayed to San Sebastian, the patron saint of the pueblo. The boy was cured and a dance was held in tribute. The name of the dance was derived from this act para chico (for the boy).
The dance involves two main characters. The Chico or young boy and the Patron or supervisor of the hacienda. A bull is also used in the dance.To become these characters, the residents of Chiapa de Corzo wear masks made of wood. Sam Houston State University owns a number of these masks as part of the William Breitenbach Mexican Mask collection. Breitenbach was an art professor at Sam Houston State and had a infinity for collecting Mexican masks. In his collection are a number of Danza de Parachicos masks.
The Chico is depicted with a muttenchop beard and closed mouth. Its face has European features with glass eyes and false eyelashes.
The Patron has a full beard, open mouth with exposed teeth, and wrinkles around the forehead and eyes. It too has European features with glass eyes and false eyelashes.
Its a bull. Not much else to say.
A full bearded Chico mask was introduced in 1963. It is similar to the Patron mask as it has a closed mouth and wrinkles but it similar to the traditional Chico mask when you compare the nose and mouth.
The mask makers of the Parachico masks operate as part of a guild that follows strict rules and regulations when it comes to the creation of Parachico masks. Young students begin with smaller carvings then graduate to full sized ones. According to William Breitenbach notes, masters and apprentices have been working and training at the Instituto National de Bellas Artes (INBA) in Chiapa de Corzo though this may no longer be the case.
If you would like more information about these masks as well as few others from the Breitenbach collection, they can be viewed at this address.