Anthony Shelton: From Carnival to Lucha Libre. Mexican Masks and Devotions / Do Carnaval à Luta Libre: Máscaras e Devoções Mexicanas

From Carnival to Lucha Libre: Mexican Masks and Devotions offers a series of glimpses into some of the most ingenious expressions of Mexico’s collective imagination, made and performed in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Unlike previous books on Mexican masks, From Carnival to Lucha Libre not only invites us to reflect on the relations between Indigenous and mestizo ceremonial and commercial masks and masquerades, but expands the lens to encompass the distinctive masks worn by the luchadores (wrestlers) and devoted fans of lucha libre, Mexico’s iconic wrestling culture.

The book illustrates with over 300 masks, as well as films and posters and a selection of superb photographs of luchadores by the celebrated visual artist Lourdes Grobet. The organization of the book follows the layout of the exhibition. Immersion begins in room one, Mirrored Worlds, with Tlaxcala carnival masks and masquerades featuring catrines, depictions of European dandies once credited with supernatural powers to bring the rains. Mirrored Worlds leads to room two, Theatres of Memory, and its rich display of ceremonial masks, including devils, tigers, Spaniards, Africans and Moors, to name just a few of the characters engaged in the millenarian battles between good and evil. Room three, the Mexican Imaginarium, is full of fantastic creations, from masks representing bats, alligators and other animals, to demons, mermaids and plumed serpents, ingeniously created by Mexican artists in response to market demand. From the Imaginarium, we step into the world of lucha libre, in films, posters, masks and images to encounter the legendary luchadores of the ring, the reel, and the still.

For more information: