Jaguar mask, olinal, guerrero, painted wood with boar's whiskers and farngs, height: 38 cm
Masks and Magic
Folkloristic Masks from Marseille Museum Collections
March 22 - September 15, 2008
Exhibition Curator: Dr. Ilana Singer
The "Masks and Magic" exhibition features folkloric masks from the Museum of Marseille's collection of African, Oceanic and Indian Art. Over 120 of these masks are from the Reichenbach Collection; they were gathered at folk festivals, and are mostly from Mexico. The masks depict white and black men and women and satanic
creatures - fantastic apparitions that are half-human, half-animal. The masks were made especially for folk festivals; they were used as cult objects during ritual dances, in accordance with pre-Hispanic traditions. Numerous masks are adorned with animal images, reptiles and demons, which point to the influence of medieval Christianity. Jaguar imagery is frequently encountered in the context of these festivals; this ambivalent image symbolizes both good and evil, agricultural cycles and fertility.
The exhibition was organized by Marie-Paul Vial, director of the MAAOA museum in Marseilles, together with Benoit Coutancier, the museum's curator. The exhibition, which was staged as part of the alliance between the twin cities of Haifa and Marseilles, was initiated by Haifa Mayor Yona Yahav following his visit in Marseilles in February 2007.