The Pascola and the Deer from Dances of Mexico

Maker and role
Artist: Carlos Mérida, Guatemalan, 1891-1984
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Object detail

14 1/2 x 11 3/4in (36.8 x 29.8cm)
Credit line
Gift of Susan Toomey Frost
Accession number
Object type
Further information
These are ceremonial dances of the Yaqui Indians of the state of Sonora. They are of pure Indian style, very old, and of totemic character. Of all the Indian dances still performed in Mexico today, these seem to have remained the most expressively aboriginal. The Deer Dance dramatizes this animal; the dancer goes through the lithe movements of the totemic creature. The "pascolas" act out, symbolically, the huntsman, the fisherman, the sower, and the priest. The rhythms are strong and sharply marked and the music is made by combinations of primitive instruments, including bamboo flutes, gourds with water, drums, rattles, scrapers; sometimes string instruments are added. The pascolas wear anklets and bracelets of dried butterfly cocoons, and in certain passages of the dance they subordinate all rhythms to the "dance of the cocoons" produced by the highly skilled, delicately subtle movements of their feet.
Subject period


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