The Collection of David Wilsher

David Wilsher with Herminio Candelario, Suchitlán, Colima, Mexico, 1990

I visited Colima several times in the early 90's. It's a very small state on the Pacific coast of Mexico. It has the active Fuego de Colima volcano that constantly smokes. The coastline has lovely beaches lined with coconut palms and seafood joints with fresh shrimp and oysters.

The name of Colima comes from the Nahuatl Indian word meaning domain of the lord, or old kingdom. Coliman means grandfather, hill or volcano. Colima's rough translation would be "place conquered by our ancestors," or "place dominated by the fire god or old god."

There's a regional dish in Colima, a type of corn porridge that also features a cooked pig's head including the eyes, which are considered a delicacy. I've had the pleasure of trying this dish. Fortunately, I didn't know about the eyeballs until after the fact. In retrospect I remember the squishiness but was unaware of what I was eating. Then, my friend Ben came down for breakfast and begged out of the meal when he learned about the special ingredient. Even years later, I can say I'm glad I was the first one down for breakfast that morning!

While Colima is not known as a major influence for mask making, Herminio Candelario is a local legend. His masks and costumes are on exhibit at the regional art museum and his family has been involved in local festivals and rituals for a long time.