TITLE: Qhapaq Negro Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Peru
SUBREGION: Cusco
ETHNICITY: Quechua; Aymara
DESCRIPTION: Qhapaq Negro (Great Black) Mask
MAKER: Unknown maker in Cusco Region
CEREMONY: Kuwallada Dance (Fiesta de la Virgen del Carmen)
AGE: 1940s
MAIN MATERIAL: plaster
OTHER MATERIALS: paint

The city of Paucartambo, Peru, celebrates the Festival of the Virgin of Carmen annually on July 16th. The Festival begins by the carrying of an image of the Virgin Mary through the streets to the church. Among the festivities that follow is the Kuwallada, a dance involving numerous masked characters in elaborate costumes. The Qhapaq Negro (qhapaq being Quechua for “mighty” or “great” and negro being Spanish for black) represents the slaves brought to work the silver mines and cotton fields in the early colonial period. They dance while singing to a slow and stately rhythm.


Click above to watch a short documentary on Corpus Christi in Cusco, Peru.

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TITLE: Contradanza (Caporal) Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Peru
SUBREGION: Cusco
ETHNICITY: Quechua
DESCRIPTION: Caporal de la Contradanza Mask
MAKER: Dionicio Huamán Ayma (Sicuani, 1950- )
CEREMONY: Contradanza
AGE: 2014
MAIN MATERIAL: wire mesh
OTHER MATERIALS: paint; steel strips; elastic straps

The contradanza dance is performed throughout the Cusco region. The characters include a leader (caporal), soldiers, servants, and children. The dance is usually part of the Fiesta de la Virgen de Carmen in mid-July or Corpus Christi, and is performed to the music of flutes, accordion, and drums. The dance is led the caporal, who wears a military uniform and a plaster or paper maché mask with a long nose, similar to a siqlla.  The main dancers are all men wearing elaborate, brightly colored uniforms and beribboned caps, with a wire mesh face mask. They dance in two lines facing each other.  Accompanying them are a pair of maqtas (servants), who serve the role of clowning to amuse the audience, and a pair of children.

This mask represents the caporal.  It is identical to the siqlla, or doctorcito, mask, except that the caporal‘s facial expression is bellicose instead of smiling.


Click above to watch a short documentary on Corpus Christi in Cusco, Peru.

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TITLE: Majeño Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Peru
SUBREGION: Pisaq, Cusco
ETHNICITY: Quechua; Aymara
DESCRIPTION: Majeño (Merchant) Mask
MAKER: Dionicio Huamán Ayma (Sicuani, 1950- )
CEREMONY: Fiesta de la Virgen del Carmen (Kuwallada Dance)
AGE: 2014
MAIN MATERIAL: paper maché
OTHER MATERIALS: plaster; paint; foam rubber; string

The city of Paucartambo, Peru, celebrates the Festival of the Virgin of Carmen annually on July 16th. The Festival begins by the carrying of an image of the Virgin Mary through the streets to the church. Among the festivities that follow is the Kuwallada, a dance involving numerous masked characters in elaborate costumes. The majeños satirize the Spanish merchants of the Majes Valley who traded in wine and aguardiente (cane liquor). The majeños dance usually in a group of twenty men and one woman, accompanied by a military-type band of brass instruments and drums.  They dance uproariously, carrying about bottles of alcohol, except in the presence of the image of the Virgin. The leading majeño (majeño mayor) is paired with a dancer wearing a female’s mask and dress who carries the liquor for the group, and several maqtas (servant-clowns) accompany the group.

This mask was made in Pisaq and used there during the Fiesta from 2014 to 2019.


Click above to watch a short documentary on Corpus Christi in Cusco, Peru.

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TITLE: Loco Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Peru
SUBREGION: Huánuco District
ETHNICITY: Quechua
DESCRIPTION: Loco (Crazy Man) Mask
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Carnival
AGE: 1970s
MAIN MATERIAL: glove leather
OTHER MATERIALS: cardboard; wool stuffing; plant fiber; stitching; paint

Carnival is celebrated throughout the Catholic world with parades and other festivities, often including masqueraders. It is the celebration before the fasting season of Lent. In Peru, as in most of Latin America, Carnival is celebrated with masked dances and parades.

This loco, or crazy man, mask comes from the region of Huánaco in central Peru. It is popularly used by masqueraders to frighten children.

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TITLE: K’achampa Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Peru
SUBREGION: Cusco
ETHNICITY: Quechua
DESCRIPTION: K’achampa Mask
MAKER: Dionicio Huamán Ayma (Sicuani, 1950- )
CEREMONY: K’achampa Dance
AGE: 2014
MAIN MATERIAL: wire mesh
OTHER MATERIALS: paint; steel strips

The k’achampa dance is performed throughout the central mountains of Peru to the accompaniment of martial music. The characters include a leader (caporal), soldiers, and children. The dance is performed for different purposes in different parts of Peru. In Cusco, it is performed during Corpus Christi.  In Paucartambo, it is usually part of the Fiesta de la Virgen de Carmen in mid-July. In Ollantaytambo, it is performed at the Feast of the Pentecost on January 6. In all cases, the mask is worn with a costume consisting of an elaborately decorated flat-topped hat or ch’ullu (traditional Andean wool hat with earflaps), a vest with mirrors and bells, a white shirt, black tie, white gloves, black shorts, and vest and dress coat. The masqueraders may also carry a slingshot. The dance is thought to be Incan in origin and to relate to war rituals.

This mask was made and used in Pisaq for four years.


Click above to watch a short documentary on Corpus Christi in Cusco, Peru.

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TITLE: K’achampa Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Peru
SUBREGION: Cusco
ETHNICITY: Quechua
DESCRIPTION: K’achampa Mask
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: K’achampa Dance
AGE: 2018
MAIN MATERIAL: wire mesh
OTHER MATERIALS: paint; steel strips

The k’achampa dance is performed throughout the central mountains of Peru to the accompaniment of martial music. The characters include a leader (caporal), soldiers, and children. The dance is performed for different purposes in different parts of Peru. In Cusco, it is performed during Corpus Christi.  In Paucartambo, it is usually part of the Fiesta de la Virgen de Carmen in mid-July. In Ollantaytambo, it is performed at the Feast of the Pentecost on January 6. In all cases, the mask is worn with a costume consisting of an elaborately decorated flat-topped hat or ch’ullu (traditional Andean wool hat with earflaps), a vest with mirrors and bells, a white shirt, black tie, white gloves, black shorts, and vest and dress coat. The masqueraders may also carry a slingshot. The dance is thought to be Incan in origin and to relate to war rituals.


Click above to watch a short documentary on Corpus Christi in Cusco, Peru.

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TITLE: Waq’ollo
TYPE: hood mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Peru
SUBREGION: Cusco
ETHNICITY: Quechua
DESCRIPTION: Waq’ollo Mask for Qhapaq Q’olla
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Qhapaq Q’olla Dance (Qoyllur Rit’i; Fiesta de la Virgen del Carmen; Corpus Christi)
AGE: 2019
MAIN MATERIAL: dyed and knitted wool-acrylic blend
OTHER MATERIALS: N/A

In the Altiplano of Bolivia and Peru, the Quechua and Aymara descendants of the Incans still celebrate Qoyllur Rit’i, the Snow Star Festival in late May or early June to hale the reappearance of the Pleiades constellation and the harvest. Although the Catholic Church has attempted to co-opt the event, it maintains its essentially pre-Spanish conquest character.  Pilgrims from around Peru assemble in the Sinakara Valley in various costumes to dance in celebration. The Qhapaq Q’olla (“mighty Indian”) is one such character, dancing in the waq’ollo mask shown here with a hat, woven sling and a dried vicuña skin. Supposedly they represent a merchant who is half human and half llama, and who brings goods to the Cusco region for sale from the jungle and Paucartambo region, such as pisco liquor. Their roles are primarily that of clown, but they also dance and sing to the Virgin of Paucartambo. They sometimes wear a square flat hat called an aqarapi, and dance in a group.  The group is composed of a Mayor (alcalde), who carries a wooden staff of authority and a black crucifix on his mask, and his wife (la Imilla), a child (q’ollita), two captains, a llama herder (llamero), who wanders into the crowd to pretend to sell his goods, and a group of q’ollas dancing in two rows.  The imilla has a face covered by a black veil.  Qhapaq Q’olla also dance at Corpus Christi parades in Cusco and other religious celebrations.

The q’ollas, aligned according to their age, dance together, led by the captains.Sometimes children called chanako accompany them as well. The musical ensemble that accompanies them consists of a violin, an accordion, a bass drum and several Quena performers.  The q’ollas are always men born in Paucartambo. The costume consists of a flat, rectangular hat (aqarapi) decorated with sequins, old coins or beads; the waq’ollo; a lliclla skin made of vicuña wool, and the qepi that contains a young dead vicuña.  the dance, the collas sing Quechua songs about their commercial activity, their journey to Cusco, and their protective saints.

Although traditionally made of llama wool, the waq’ollo is now commonly made of sheep wool or, as here, acrylic wool. The masks shown here have a modern take on the traditional, white style, with loud green stripes or a U.S. flag.


Click above to watch a short documentary on Corpus Christi in Cusco, Peru.

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TITLE: Huaylaca Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Peru
SUBREGION: Cusco
ETHNICITY: Quechua
DESCRIPTION: Huaylaca Mask
MAKER: Adriel Ordoñez (Cusco, 1994- )
CEREMONY: Carnival; Q’oyoriti; Fiesta de Corpus Christi; Fiesta de la Virgen del Carmen; Fiesta de la Virgen de Natividad
AGE: 2019
MAIN MATERIAL: paper maché
OTHER MATERIALS: plaster; paint; metal mesh

One character common to nearly all festivals in Cusco, Peru is the huaylaca. The huaylaca is a kind of sacred clown.  The Quechua word denotes a woman who does not know how to perform the tasks typically assigned to women in the home, such as cooking, washing clothes, or caring for children. In festival dances, the huaylaca character is always played by a man in drag, sometimes wearing men’s sandals. On their backs, they carry a rag baby, and they sometimes carry a cardboard camera or other accessory.  Their role is to accompany the main dance troupes, flirting with and teasing the spectators, making jokes, helping pedestrians cross through the parade lines, and disciplining rowdy spectators.


Click above to watch a short documentary on Corpus Christi in Cusco, Peru.

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TITLE: Huacón Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Peru
SUBREGION: Mito
ETHNICITY: Quechua
DESCRIPTION: Huacón Mask
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Baile de la Huaconada
AGE: 1960s
MAIN MATERIAL: wood
OTHER MATERIALS: pigment

The Huaconada is a dance performed in the town of Mito, Concepción Province, in Peru. The dance is performed during the first three days of January.  The huacones wear wood masks replicating an old face, nearly always with a twisted mouth, and wear either of two types of costumes, traditional or modern. The huacones represent traditional village elders and, during the dancing days, they act as the highest political authority of Mito.  They carry whips (tronadores) to symbolize their political power.  The dance is accompanied by a small orchestra with an Andean drum known as tinya. Masks and costumes are passed down through the generations to those considered meritorious.

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TITLE: Condor Carnival Mask
TYPE: helmet mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Peru
SUBREGION: Cusco
ETHNICITY: Quechua
DESCRIPTION: Condor Mask
MAKER: Dionicio Huamán Ayma (Sicuani, 1950- )
CEREMONY: Carnival
AGE: 2019
MAIN MATERIAL: fiberglass
OTHER MATERIALS: paint; foam rubber; adhesive

Carnival is celebrated throughout the Catholic world with parades and other festivities, often including masqueraders. It is the celebration before the fasting season of Lent. In Peru, as in many other parts of Latin America, Carnival is celebrated with masked dances and parades. This mask was made in Pisaq for use in the local Carnival. The condor was an important totemic animal in the Incan religion, and it continues as an important symbol of Andean communities.

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