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Carving a Guatemalan legends mask from a block of wood

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From a block of pinewood, Guatemalan legends are revealed. Fourth-generation woodcarver Arturo Aj Canil from Chichicastenango carves wood masks of colorful creatures from folklore in Guatemala. This promotional Novica video shares how his masks, like this Floral Lion mask, are made.

“With my brothers and my dad, we began experimenting with branches and roots. We gave them all kinds of forms, such as snakes, jaguars, goats and octopus shapes and I loved bringing all these images to life. In fact, I still have some of those early wood carvings…

I love to create images that reflect our customs and traditions.”

Arturo Aj Canil
Launched in 1999, Novica is a fair-trade marketplace from National Geographic. The project features “limited edition and one-of-a-kind handmade works of art, ranging from artisan-crafted jewelry to handmade apparel to world-style home decor.” Canil also sells his work at

wood block
completed mask
Also from Novica: How is a hand blown glass pitcher made?

Then watch more carving and more mask videos next:
• Cara de Diablo: Felipe Horta’s handcrafted masks
• Unmasking the Secrets That Ancient Mummies Hold
• Amanda Crowe, Eastern Band Cherokee Indian woodcarver
• A Continuous Shape: Stonecarver Anna Rubincam creates a portrait

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