Rufino Tamayo (1899 - 1991)

Figura prehispánica XII. Hombre con mascara de coyote, Veracruz (1976)
Prehispanic Figure XII. Man with a Coyote Mask, Veracruz

Lithograph on paper
height: 56cm
width: 45.5cm

Donated by the Fundación Olga y Rufino Tamayo 1997


In Hombre con máscara de coyote, Tamayo draws inspiration from a figurine from the Gulf Coast state of Veracruz. As the title of the lithograph indicates, the figure wears a dramatically detailed coyote mask with pointed, protruding ears, wide eyes and sharp teeth bared in a snarling mouth. The man is also adorned with a necklace attached to a rounded breastplate and stands with his masked face raised and his arm outstretched behind him as if in a ritualised motion. Many of the Mesoamerican pantheons of deities included a coyote god who was sometimes a god of music and often a trickster-style mischief-maker. This god was either represented as a coyote or a man with a coyote head, and the figure in Tamayo's lithograph may be a shaman incarnating the deity. Alternatively, the figure's fierce appearance may indicate that he is a warrior. As with the other lithographs of the Figuras Prehispánicas series, Tamayo covers the figure's body with a streak of paint, and loose patterns comprise the background.

Terri Geis, 2008

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