How to Make an Ancient Mayan Indian Mask

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Ancient Mayan Indian Mask. Alicia Bodine

One of the projects I required my daughter to do for her history lesson on the Ancient Mayan Indians (she is homeschooled) was to create an Ancient Mayan Indian mask. This project should be done over a weekend or a few days when you will have time to work on it. You can do it just for fun or after learning more about the Ancient Mayan Indian culture.

  • Age Guideline: 10 Years and Up
  • Time Required: 60 to 90 minutes (does not include drying time)

    The age and time guidelines listed above are estimates. This Ancient Mayan Indian mask craft can be modified to suit other ages and may take a little more time if you alter the craft to fit your needs.

    Materials Needed:

    • Empty gallon water jug
    • Utility knife
    • Flour
    • Water
    • Newspaper strips
    • Scissors
    • Paints
    • Paintbrushes
    • Glue
    • Decorations

    Instructions:

    Take time to cover your table with a disposable plastic tablecloth, or a few sheets of newspaper. This craft is going to be messy. I typically use a shower curtain liner to protect my tabletop, as I can get them from the dollar store for a buck. 

    Take an empty gallon water or milk jug and clean it out. Cut the jug in half with a utility knife so that the handle of the jug becomes the center front of your mask. Toss the back half of your jug or save it for another craft project. An adult should do this step, as it isn't safe for children to use utility knives.

    Flip the jug so that the opening where you poured the water out is facing downward.

     

    Now you need to create some paper mache paste. You can do this by mixing equal parts of flour and water. If you do this and the paste seems too runny, just add a little bit more flour. The opposite is also true. If the paste is too thick, add more water.

    Cut strips of newspaper to use to paper mache your mask.

    The strips should be somewhere around 1 inch wide and 6 inches long. They don't need to be exact, however.

    Dip the newspaper strips in the paper mache paste mixture one at a time and lay them over the front of your Ancient Mayan Indian mask. You will need to overlap the strips in order to completely cover your mask. After you get a layer on the mask, set it aside to dry.

    The newspaper strips should be dried out within 24 hours. Once this happens, you need to repeat the above process to give your mask a second layer of newspaper strips that have been covered in the paper mache paste. Set aside once again to dry.

    Your mask is now ready for painting. Research what was important to the Mayan Indians and incorporate that into your design. For example, corn was a staple crop for the Mayan Indians. Not only that, but they also worshiped a maize (corn) god. You may want to add stalks of corn to the mask. The Mayans loved color, so feel free to use bright colors when creating your mask.

    Set the mask aside until the paint dries.

    Add decorations. The Mayan Indians were known for using a lot of feathers, so you can allow your child to glue feathers to the top of the mask. Other items to add include beads, jewels, or even fake hair.

    Once the glue dries, you can wear the mask or display it nicely for all to see.