TITLE: Diablo de Tropa
TYPE: helmet mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
ETHNICITY: Quechua and Aymara
DESCRIPTION: Diablo de Tropa (Troop Devil) Mask
CEREMONY: Carnival (La Diablada)
AGE: ca. 1990s
MAIN MATERIAL: recycled tin sheet
OTHER MATERIALS: paint; glue
The Diablada is an important part of Carnival in several towns in the Altiplano region of Bolivia, Peru, and northern Chile. The Diablada of Oruro, Bolivia, is famous for the large numbers of participants and the elaborateness of their masks and costumes.
The dance dates back to pre-colonial times and was adapted under the influence of the Spanish missionaries to conform to the Catholic doctrine of the struggle between good and evil. The dance begins with the Archangel Michael commanding personified seven virtues against Lucifer and his personified seven deadly sins and an army of male and female devils. Other non-European characters, such as the Andean Condor and the jukumari bear, also play a role.
The dance typically occurs in the course of the parade, with marching bands playing musical scores dating back to the 17th century. In practice, the dance includes both male and female devils dancing in a group led by (rather than opposed by) the Archangel Michael. Troop devils (diablos de tropa or demonios de tropa) are the standard parade devil, with dragons on the head to represent ferocity.
For more on Bolivian masquerade, see Peter McFarren ed., Masks of the Bolivian Andes (La Paz: Editorial Quipus/Banco Mercantil SA, 1993).