I spent the weekend crying about this mask. I am not kidding.
Mayan Jaguar #1. I made this mask in such a happy haze after returning from the Yucatan peninsula, full of ideas for a Jaguar Warrior mask. I was promptly shot down by critics who said it looked "Egyptian". This broke my heart, because I already make Egyptian motif designs and that was definitely NOT what I was going for.
It's really hard to walk that fine line between being original and appropriating outright, when I'm trying to do a mask "in the style of". My usual trick is to spend a load of time looking at examples of a certain motif. A trip to the Egyptian wing at the Met or (in this case) a trip to a few Mayan sites. Then, after I've thought about it for a while, I do my sketches with NONE of that source material handy. So that I'm just doing an impression of the motifs that I saw. Usually this means my own style comes through.
With culturally iconic pieces I try to get it "right". I went to Japan, saw hundreds of kitsune masks and statues, thought abot it, then came home and drew my own version. I like it when my Japanese friends like my kitsune masks. Sure they're not like the masks from Japan but they're still recognizable as kitsune. But people are already confused and misinformed regarding "connections" between ancient Egypt and the Mayans...I can't add to that hot mess.
I tried to make a "more Mayan" version of the design (whatever the hell that means) by copying directly from existing headdresses (just to shut the critics up)...and failed miserably. It's just not my style to copy. I hate it. Six sketches, three patterns and one prototype in the garbage, and I had myself a good cry and said "That's it, not making this Mayan Jaguar". Lightning struck and the design I drew was the design above...and that was it. Couldn't make it happen again. Sometimes it's like that.
For all the critics out there...some links to show you what Mayan headdresses look like. No two are alike!! I saw ~hundreds~ carved in the walls of Chichen Itza's temples...each one was different. A common theme seemed to be disks at the sides with looping, hanging panels, so that's what I was going for. Here are some examples of what I'm talking about if you're a doubter:[link][link][link][link][link]
And yes I know I could just add feathers to the top, probably...but I didn't WANT to because this is a jaguar, primarily, and I wanted his outline to be feline and not birdlike.
Also, no...black eye markings on a cat do NOT mean it is a cheetah. My house cat has black eye markings. He is not a cheetah. The black markings on my jaguar's face are inspired by traditional squared spiral face paint, and blackened eyes, as seen here:[link][link][link]
So after a weekend of having my heart broken by people claiming "it looks like an Egyptian cheetah!!" I gave up. This entry is my last and only attempt to explain where I was coming from when I made this. I will only offer this mask as a commission, because I just can not deal with all the stupid.
One good thing; when your work is being attacked, you find out really fast who your friends are. Roland is a good friend, who says (wisely) that if the artist researches a concept and SAYS it is South American…it’s South American dammit! So I’m giving him this mask for being a defender of the arts and an all around great person. Good things come to people who are kind and have open hearts.
Trolls get nothing.