We want to say thank you to our outgoing Guest Curator, Moira Ernst! If you missed a chance to see her fantastic artifacts, please stop by the Guest Curator Archive Page. You can also examine all of our past Guest Curator’s as well.
Welcome to our Guest Curator, Yvonne J. Milspaw!
Yvonne J Milspaw received her PhD in Folklore from Indiana University in 1975. She taught college for most of her career, publishing on women’s folk arts, material culture, legend, and belief, generally from her Pennsylvania German background. She has also collected artifacts whenever possible, both through photography and actual items. Her husband is very patient and supportive. Since apples never fall far from the tree, both of their sons know a great deal about folklore, and their daughter-in-law has an actual degree in folklore.
Hand crafted masks for a folk theatrical production of Los Pastores (The Shepherds) from Central Mexico. Each year at Carnival time (Shrove Tuesday, Fastnacht Day, Mardi Gras), the residents of small towns in Central Mexico put on pageants depicting the Shepherds searching for the newborn Baby Jesus. Even though this is a Christmas story, the people prefer it as a raucous celebration leading up to the austerities of Lent. The actors, almost always men, generally in costumes and masks, depict the Shepherds, the Devil, and a series of demons in disguises who attempt to divert the Shepherds, trying to prevent them from finding Baby Jesus.
The plays are full of slapstick humor, silliness, frivolity, are sometimes transgressive, and contain lots of sexual and political innuendo (and criticism). They follow a broad outline of the Bible story–the Shepherds always win–but the ways the different demon characters try to distract them is improvisational. And hysterically funny.
I purchased these masks in about 2010 in (of all places) a flea market in Hummelstown, PA. I suspect they all came from the same collection, but I have no provenance on them. I pieced the story of them together over several years, from museum exhibits, research articles, and finally the absolute best source, the owner of a Mexican restaurant in East Hartford, CT. His explanation was the clearest.
If you are a folklorist or a collector of folklore/popular culture artifacts, please consider becoming a Guest Curator. Your objects will be highlighted here on a rotating basis.
All we ask is that the objects be yours, you have a photograph of the objects, and all or most of the information about the object (see the guidelines below, for more details).
Guest Curator Guidelines:
1. Artifacts must fall within the subject of our website (folklore, folk art, popular culture, etc).
2. Artifacts must be a part of your own personal collection.
3. Submissions must be limited to no more than five artifacts.
4. Submissions must contain a photograph of the artifact, as well as the title, purpose, country of origin, culture , materials, and dimensions of the artifact.
5. We also would like your photograph and a brief biography to accompany the collection.
Please contact, email@example.com and write Guest Curator in the subject line for further information or with any questions. We cannot wait to highlight your collection!