TITLE: Eight Heavenly Maidens Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Asia
COUNTRY: Korea
SUBREGION: Korean expatriates in China
ETHNICITY: Korean
DESCRIPTION: Eight Heavenly Maidens Mask
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Kuunmong Drama
FUNCTION: entertainment
AGE: 1980s
MAIN MATERIAL: paper maché
OTHER MATERIALS: paint; stitching; cotton cloth; dyed cotton cords; elastic band; hardware

This mask was probably made by Korean expatriates living in China for use in a performance of the Kuunmong drama.  Kuunmong, or “The Cloud Dream of the Nine,” is a 17th century Korean novel set in China during the Tang Dynasty (618-907 CE). Although probably originally written in Chinese, it was early translated into Korean and is considered one of the main masterpieces of Korean literature.  Kuunmong tells the story of two young men who live strict Buddhist and Confucian lives, respectively.  The Confucian hero, So-yoo, marries or takes as concubines eight beautiful maidens, of which this mask probably represents one.  The mask is thus not made for a traditional cultural ceremony of Korea, but rather as a form of entertainment and cultural education.

For more on Korean masquerade, see Jeon Kyung-wook, Korean Mask Dance Dramas: Their History and Structural Principles (Gyeonggi-do, Rep. of Korea: Youlhwadang Pub. 2005).

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TITLE: Boules Janissary Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Europe
COUNTRY: Greece
SUBREGION: Naoussa, Imathias
ETHNICITY: Hellenic
DESCRIPTION: Yianitsaros (Janissary) Mask
MAKER: Alexandros Karydas (Naoussa, 1985- )
CEREMONY: Carnival
AGE: 2009
MAIN MATERIAL: beeswax
OTHER MATERIALS: oil-based paint; cotton cloth; horse hair; metal foil; cotton stitching; metal and plastic ornament

The origin of the Boules (Brides) Festival in the town of Naoussa, in Imathias, Greece, is obscured by history.  It probably has its origins in ancient Dionysian celebrations of fertility during the spring (Anthestiria). The modern festival is held during Carnival, but its origin was the Turkish occupation of the island of Paros.  The Ottoman Empire controlled Paros from 1537 until 1829.  According to legend, in 1705, the Turks renounced the principle of peaceful coexistence and Turkish soldiers came to the village of Naoussa to recruit forcibly children for their Christian military unit. Those families that resisted were slaughtered.  The following year, around Carnival time, the villagers of Naoussa put on masks and costumes, and paraded in tribute to the dead. To deceive the Turks, the ritual was framed as a wedding, but in reality the bride was a masked man, and the wedding feast was really a means to surreptitiously collect money and food for rebels living in the mountains.

Today, the tradition is still rigorously followed, with masked brides and Yiantisari (Janissaries), Greek soldiers fighting for the Turks. Only unmarried young males are allowed to masquerade, and all wear the same costume.  In the case of the Janissary, he wears a white, wide-sleeved blouse, a short skirt, leggings, a cloth cap, and carries a sword. They parade through the town to the music of traditional bands, until they reach the City Hall, and the leader of the boulouki asks permission from the Mayor to begin the ceremony. They then go to the main square, where the dancing begins. After the dances, the boules go from house to house collecting donations.

This specific mask was danced by Gregory Tararas (Naoussa, 1985- ) for four years, from 2009-2012.

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TITLE: Boules Bride Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Europe
COUNTRY: Greece
SUBREGION: Naoussa, Paros
ETHNICITY: Hellenic
DESCRIPTION: Boulas (Bride) Mask
MAKER: Alexandros Karydas (Naoussa, 1985- )
CEREMONY: Carnival
AGE: 2020
MAIN MATERIAL: beeswax
OTHER MATERIALS: oil-based paint; cotton cloth; polyester cloth and ribbons; synthetic flowers; cotton stitching

The origin of the Boules (Brides) Festival in the town of Naoussa, in Paros, Greece, is obscured by history.  It probably has its origins in ancient Dionysian celebrations of fertility during the spring (Anthestiria). The modern festival is held during Carnival, but its origin was the Turkish occupation of Naoussa.  The Ottoman Empire controlled much of Greece from 1537 until 1829.  According to legend, in 1705, the Turks renounced the principle of peaceful coexistence and Turkish soldiers came to the village of Naoussa to recruit forcibly children for their Christian military unit. Those families that resisted were slaughtered.  The following year, around Carnival time, the villagers of Naoussa put on masks and costumes, and paraded in tribute to the dead. To deceive the Turks, the ritual was framed as a wedding, but in reality the bride was a masked man, and the wedding feast was really a means to surreptitiously collect money and food for rebels living in the mountains.

Today, the tradition is still rigorously followed, with masked brides and “janissaries” (Greek soldiers fighting for the Turks) performing specific dances. Only unmarried young males are allowed to masquerade, and all wear the same costume.  In the case of the bride, she wears a black, embroidered skirt, and dark long-sleeved blouse, and a wedding veil. They parade through the town to the music of traditional bands, until they reach the City Hall, and the leader of the boulouki asks permission from the Mayor to begin the ceremony. They then go to the main square, where the dancing begins. After the dances, the boules go from house to house collecting donations.

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TITLE: Basler Carnival Half Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Europe
COUNTRY: Switzerland
SUBREGION: Basel
ETHNICITY: Swiss
DESCRIPTION: Carnival Half-Mask for Fife Player
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Fasnacht (Carnival)
AGE: 1990s
MAIN MATERIAL: paper maché
OTHER MATERIALS: paint; elastic band; hardware; dyed cotton cap

Fasnacht is what the Tyrolean Swiss call Carnival.  In many towns in Austria, southern Germany, Switzerland, and northern Italy, local folk don elaborate masks and costumes to parade through the town.  Different towns have variations on the parade, such as the Schemenlaufen of Imst, the Schellerlaufen of Nassereith, and the Muller and Matschgerer of Innsbruck, Austria.

In Basel, Switzerland, masks are almost all made of paper maché and take a helmet form. Armies of costumed clowns, musicians, and dancers, called cliques, parade around town in uniform mask styles for 72 nearly continuous hours on the Monday following Ash Wednesday. The paraders must wear their Larven (masks) throughout the parade and are expected never to remove the mask in order to identify themselves.  They throw confetti at crowd members with such proliferation that it blankets the streets.

Although there is a great deal of innovation and creativity in mask styles, there are certain styles that tend to reappear annually. This mask, known as Waggis, represents a big-nosed, frizzy-haired clown, who wears wooden clogs, a blue shirt, and a red neckerchief. He is a prankster who parodies the Alsatian farmers who formerly came to Basel market days to sell their produce (Waggis literally means a person from Alsace in Basel dialect). Other common characters include the Alti Dante (old aunt), Dummbeeter (trumpetist) and Pierrot (a sad clown from the late Italian Commedia dell’Arte, known for his white and black makeup).

This specific mask was made for and used by a fife player in one of the roaming bands. Half masks are common among wind instrument musicians who need to access their instruments with their mouths.

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TITLE: Mangkornkanth Khon Mask
TYPE: helmet mask
GENERAL REGION: Asia
COUNTRY: Thailand
SUBREGION: Bangkok
ETHNICITY: Thai
DESCRIPTION: Mangkornkanth Demon Khon
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Ramakien Dance Drama
AGE: ca. 1970s
MAIN MATERIAL: paper maché
OTHER MATERIALS: plaster; gilding; rhinestones; paint; wooden fangs

The Ramakien is the Thai adaptation of the traditional Hindu epic from India, the Ramayana.  Most male characters in the drama wear masks fashioned from paper maché and elaborately gilded, decorated, and painted.

This mask represents the minor demon king Mangkornkanth, the second king of Romkan and a minion of the demon king Totsakan.

For more on Thai khon masks, see Natthapatra Chandavij & Promporn Pramualratana, Thai Puppets and Khon Masks (Bangkok: River Books, 1998).

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TITLE: Emberá Monkey Mask (Child’s)
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Panama
SUBREGION: Darien
ETHNICITY: Emberá
DESCRIPTION: Capuchin Monkey Mask for Child
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Healing; Purification
AGE: 2018
MAIN MATERIAL: dyed palm fibers
OTHER MATERIALS: N/A

The Emberá people belong to the Chocó ethnic group along with the Wounaan people inhabit parts of southern Panama and northern Colombia.  They weave remarkable animal spirit masks from the dyed fibers of the black chunga plant (black palm, Astrocaryum standleyanum). Shamans (jaibaná) use these masks in healing and village purification rituals, during which they will be hung from the house posts or worn.

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TITLE: Perro Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Panama
SUBREGION: Azuero Peninsula
ETHNICITY: Afro-Latino
DESCRIPTION: Perro (Dog) Mask
MAKER: José del Carmen González Santana (Chitré, 1959- )
CEREMONY: Danza de los Diablicos Sucios (Corpus Christi)
FUNCTION: celebration; entertainment
AGE: 2019
MAIN MATERIAL: paper maché
OTHER MATERIALS: wood teeth; airbrush paint; plastic eyes; cotton shoelaces

In the Azuero Peninsula and other parts of Panama, villagers perform several group dances before and during the celebration of Corpus Christi.  The best known of these is the dance of the Diablicos Sucios (dirty little devils), men and boys dressed in striped costumes, wearing large, paper maché masks with bright headdresses of macaw feathers attached to a leather cone strapped to the back of the head.  Other dances popular on Corpus Christi in the peninsula include the Diablicos Limpios (clean little devils), who wear flowers instead of feathers and dance with a waistband of colorful handkerchiefs to an orchestra of flute, accordion and triangle, and Diablicos Espejos (little devils with mirrors).

This mask is used in the Danza del Venado (Dance of the Deer), an old dance that has recently been revived in Azuero. It tells the story of a hunter with his two dogs that try (and fail) to catch a deer. Firecrackers may be used to simulate the sounds of a rifle. This mask was danced by Hector Quintero in the 2019 Corpus Christi celebration of Chitré.

For more on the folk masks of Panama, see Julio Arosemena Moreno, Danzas Folklóricas de la Villa de los Santos (Instituto Nacional de Cultura de Panamá 1994).

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TITLE: Diablico Sucio Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Panama
SUBREGION: Azuero Peninsula
ETHNICITY: Afro-Latino
DESCRIPTION: Traditional Diablico Sucio Mask
MAKER: Dario López (Parita, 1950- )
CEREMONY: Danza de los Diablicos Sucios (Corpus Christi)
FUNCTION: celebration; entertainment
AGE: 1976
MAIN MATERIAL: paper maché
OTHER MATERIALS: oil-based paint; feather rachises; adhesive; cotton shoelaces

In the Azuero Peninsula and other parts of Panama, villagers perform several group dances before and during the celebration of Corpus Christi.  The best known of these is the dance of the Diablicos Sucios (dirty little devils), men and boys dressed in striped costumes, wearing large, paper maché masks with bright headdresses of macaw feathers attached to a leather cone strapped to the back of the head. The costume is traditionally colored red and black, made from alternating stripes of achiote (annatto) and charcoal. The devils dance to the music of a guitar and they always carry castanets, a dried cow bladder, and a whip for striking the bladder (and fending off drunken revelers who might interfere with the dance). Generally, the dance first takes place in the street, from the church around the plaza, after which the dancers might appear in specific homes at the request of the resident for a private dance in exchange for food or money.  The dancers sometimes chew on ginger to cleanse their bodies, but the appellation “dirty” comes from the foul smell of the cow bladder and the sweat from prolonged dancing in the tropical summer sun.

Other dances popular on Corpus Christi in the peninsula include the Diablicos Limpios (clean little devils), who wear flowers instead of feathers and dance with a waistband of colorful handkerchiefs to an orchestra of flute, accordion and triangle, and Diablicos Espejos (little devils with mirrors).

Modern masks tend to have a sculptured look; traditional masks like this one had a more abstract and stylized appearance.

For more on the folk masks of Panama, see Julio Arosemena Moreno, Danzas Folklóricas de la Villa de los Santos (Instituto Nacional de Cultura de Panamá 1994).


Click above to watch a short documentary film about the diablicos sucios of Panama.

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TITLE: Diablico Sucio Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Panama
SUBREGION: Azuero Peninsula
ETHNICITY: Afro-Latino
DESCRIPTION: Green Iguana Diablico Sucio Mask
MAKER: José del Carmen González Santana (Chitré, 1959- )
CEREMONY: Danza de los Diablicos Sucios (Corpus Christi)
FUNCTION: celebration; entertainment
AGE: 2019
MAIN MATERIAL: paper maché
OTHER MATERIALS: wood spines; airbrush paint; cotton shoelaces

In the Azuero Peninsula and other parts of Panama, villagers perform several group dances before and during the celebration of Corpus Christi.  The best known of these is the dance of the Diablicos Sucios (dirty little devils), men and boys dressed in striped costumes, wearing large, paper maché masks with bright headdresses of macaw feathers attached to a leather cone strapped to the back of the head. The costume is traditionally colored red and black, made from alternating stripes of achiote (annatto) and charcoal. The devils dance to the music of a guitar and they always carry castanets, a dried cow bladder, and a whip for striking the bladder (and fending off drunken revelers who might interfere with the dance). Generally, the dance first takes place in the street, from the church around the plaza, after which the dancers might appear in specific homes at the request of the resident for a private dance in exchange for food or money.  The dancers sometimes chew on ginger to cleanse their bodies, but the appellation “dirty” comes from the foul smell of the cow bladder and the sweat from prolonged dancing in the tropical summer sun.

Other dances popular on Corpus Christi in the peninsula include the Diablicos Limpios (clean little devils), who wear flowers instead of feathers and dance with a waistband of colorful handkerchiefs to an orchestra of flute, accordion and triangle, and Diablicos Espejos (little devils with mirrors).

This specific mask represents the locally common green iguana and was danced by Hector Quintero in the 2019 Corpus Christi celebration of Chitré.

For more on the folk masks of Panama, see Julio Arosemena Moreno, Danzas Folklóricas de la Villa de los Santos (Instituto Nacional de Cultura de Panamá 1994).


Click above to watch a short documentary film about the diablicos sucios of Panama.

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TITLE: Diablico Sucio Mask (Child’s)
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Panama
SUBREGION: Azuero Peninsula
ETHNICITY: Afro-Latino
DESCRIPTION: Diablico Sucio Mask
MAKER: Jorge Luis López (Parita, 1978- )
CEREMONY: Danza de los Diablicos Sucios (Corpus Christi)
FUNCTION: celebration; entertainment
AGE: 2018
MAIN MATERIAL: paper maché
OTHER MATERIALS: plaster; plastic balls; American crocodile teeth; oil-based paint; adhesive; cotton shoelaces

In the Azuero Peninsula and other parts of Panama, villagers perform several group dances before and during the celebration of Corpus Christi.  The best known of these is the dance of the Diablicos Sucios (dirty little devils), men and boys dressed in striped costumes, wearing large, paper maché masks with bright headdresses of macaw feathers attached to a leather cone strapped to the back of the head. The costume is traditionally colored red and black, made from alternating stripes of achiote (annatto) and charcoal. The devils dance to the music of a guitar and they always carry castanets, a dried cow bladder, and a whip for striking the bladder (and fending off drunken revelers who might interfere with the dance). Generally, the dance first takes place in the street, from the church around the plaza, after which the dancers might appear in specific homes at the request of the resident for a private dance in exchange for food or money.  The dancers sometimes chew on ginger to cleanse their bodies, but the appellation “dirty” comes from the foul smell of the cow bladder and the sweat from prolonged dancing in the tropical summer sun.

Other dances popular on Corpus Christi in the peninsula include the Diablicos Limpios (clean little devils), who wear flowers instead of feathers and dance with a waistband of colorful handkerchiefs to an orchestra of flute, accordion and triangle, and Diablicos Espejos (little devils with mirrors).

This specific mask was danced by the toddler son of the maker in the 2018 and 2019 Corpus Christi celebrations by the Parita group Danza Francisco López, led by the child’s grandfather, Dario López.

For more on the folk masks of Panama, see Julio Arosemena Moreno, Danzas Folklóricas de la Villa de los Santos (Instituto Nacional de Cultura de Panamá 1994).


Click above to watch a short documentary film about the diablicos sucios of Panama.

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