Figure 1 Publishing

Art + Design

Theatrum Mundi

Masks and Masquerades in Mexico and the Andes

Anthony Alan Shelton. In collaboration with the Museum of Anthropology, University of British Columbia

Theatrum Mundi: Mask and Masquerade in Mexico and the Andes documents some of the different ways in which pre-Hispanic and contemporary Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples have adapted and rechanelled Catholicism through their unique blends of ceremony, ritual and masquerade.” —Michael Gray-Fow

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Mexican and Andean ceremonial masks periodically reaffirm the truth and presence of myths in everyday life…. They disrupt the boundaries that in Western societies clearly separate human, animal and supernatural bodies or essences. Making masks is a vocation, while performing them is an exalted obligation. Performers and dance masters are the outward expression of ceremonial masquerade, and mask makers are its introspective artists and technicians.

double-page spread
double-page spread
double-page spread
Full book jacket showing front and back flaps, back cover and front cover, laid out flat

Book Description

Theatrum Mundi (“the theatre of the world”) describes the diversity of masks and performances that originated from the violent struggles between European, Arabic and “New World” civilizations. This authoritative study celebrates over 500 years of Mexican and South American Indigenous dance dramas and explains how mask makers, religious practitioners, masqueraders and entrepreneurs have helped to continuously reinvent, revitalize and express the changing world around them.

The culmination of four decades of research by Dr. Anthony Shelton, professor of art history and director of the Museum of Anthropology (MOA) at the University of British Columbia, the text is illustrated by field photographs and images from MOA and other notable mask collections.



  • Hardcover
  • 10 × 12 inches
  • 256 pages
  • 978-1-77327-137-8
  • $60 CDN / $50 USD
  • September 2021