REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Bolivia
YEAR PRINTED: 1968
VALUE: sheet of 4 (0.30 bolivars, 0.60 bolivars, 1 bolivar, 2 bolivars)

This set of stamps was issued as a set of two uncut sheets in 1968 to celebrate the Bolivian Carnival, as part of the Homage to the 9th Americo-Spanish Postal Congress. This sheet includes stamps depicting the chunchos (pre-colonial indigenous peoples properly known as the Ch’unchu), and the Diablada (Dance of the Devils).

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REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Bolivia
YEAR PRINTED: 2002
VALUE: 5 bolivars

This stamp was issued in 2002 as part of a set celebrating the Carnival of Oruro, which has been designated part of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humankind. This specific stamp depicts the Tobas, or dance of the indigenous warriors who inhabited Bolivia before colonization.

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REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Bolivia
YEAR PRINTED: 2002
VALUE: 1.50 bolivars

This stamp was issued in 2002 as part of a set celebrating the Carnival of Oruro, which has been designated part of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humankind. This specific stamp depicts the Morenada, or dance of the Moors.

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REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Bolivia
YEAR PRINTED: 2002
VALUE: 0.50 bolivar

This stamp was issued in 2002 as part of a set celebrating the Carnival of Oruro, which has been designated part of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humankind. This specific stamp depicts the Diablada, or dance of the devils.

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TITLE: Negrita
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Bolivia
SUBREGION: Oruro
ETHNICITY: Quechua and Aymara
DESCRIPTION: Negrita (Little Black Woman) Mask
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Carnival (La Negrada)
AGE: 1950s
MAIN MATERIAL: linen; plaster
OTHER MATERIALS: paint; mirrors; string; vegetable fiber; cotton cloth

The negrita is the less common of the two kinds of dark-skinned characters in the Carnival of Oruro, Bolivia. Unlike the china morena, who represent the Moorish invaders of Spain, the negrita represents the progeny of African slaves brought to Bolivia to work the mines and farms. Their costume is colorful and highly embellished, and they tend to wear fancy European-type dress instead of the highly decorated traditional Bolivian costume of the china morena. Their dance, like the Morenada, is accompanied by male counterparts.

This specific mask was fashioned by a skilled mask-maker (caretero) in Oruro in the 1950s. At this time, mask makers were still frequently using linen soaked in plaster for their masks and hand painting them from start to finish.

For more on Bolivian masquerade, see Peter McFarren ed., Masks of the Bolivian Andes (La Paz: Editorial Quipus/Banco Mercantil SA, 1993).

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TITLE: Pepino
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Bolivia
SUBREGION: La Paz
ETHNICITY: Aymara; Quechua
DESCRIPTION: Pepino (Clown) Mask
MAKER: Unknown maker in La Paz
CEREMONY: Danza de Ch’utas y Pepinos (Carnival)
AGE: ca. 2010
MAIN MATERIAL: cardboard; plaster
OTHER MATERIALS: cotton cloth; synthetic cloth; paint; mirrors; glitter; beads; tinsel

The clown Pepino is one of the key characters of the Carnival of La Paz, along with the ch’uta and cholita characters. Pepino is a good-natured trickster, spanking the young ladies with a long stocking filled with sand called chorizo (sausage) and suddenly spraying foam on spectators. Although his name literally means “Cucumber,” it is believed he developed from a famous Uruguayan clown, Pepe Podestá (Pepino also means “little Pepe”), combined with the Spanish harlequin character popular in early Republican Carnivals. At the conclusion of the festivities, the Pepino costume is carried to cemetery of La Paz where he is buried, while the cholitas and ch’utas dress in black and feign tears.

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TITLE: Achachi Paxlo
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Bolivia
SUBREGION: Oruro
ETHNICITY: Quechua and Aymara
DESCRIPTION: Achachi Paxlo Helmet Mask
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Carnival (La Diablada)
AGE: 1980s
MAIN MATERIAL: tin sheet
OTHER MATERIALS: brass; plastic; synthetic fiber; metal chain; paint; glitter

The Morenada (Dance of the Moors) is an annual ceremony in several towns in the Altiplano region of Bolivia, Peru, and northern Chile, usually incorporated into Carnival.  The dance includes both male and female Moors dancing in a group with whips, rattles, or scepters. A King of the Moors (Rey de Morenos) presides and coordinates the dance. The dance typically occurs in the course of a parade, with marching bands playing musical scores for the dancers.  The precise origins of the Morenada are the subject of debate, with most specialists concluding that the dance was inspired by African slaves brought to Bolivia to work the mines or the subsequent integration of Africans into the Yungas community near La Paz.  The morena wears a fancy version of the traditional Bolivian costume with the classic bowler hat.

This mask represents an achachi, an old, bald man who previously worked as a captain or slave-driver under a colonial landowner.  The achachi may be represented as a black or white man (as here), but in either case he has a long, aquiline nose, bushy beard, cruel expression, and elaborate costume.  The pipe is a fixture in both achachi and moreno characters.

This specific mask was fashioned by a skilled mask-maker (caretero) in Oruro, probably around the early 1980s, from recycled tin sheeting.

For more on Bolivian masquerade, see Peter McFarren ed., Masks of the Bolivian Andes (La Paz: Editorial Quipus/Banco Mercantil SA, 1993).

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TITLE: Moreno
TYPE: mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Bolivia
SUBREGION: Oruro
ETHNICITY: Quechua and Aymara
DESCRIPTION: Moreno (Moor) Helmet Mask
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Carnival (La Morenada)
AGE: 1960s
MAIN MATERIAL: linen; plaster
OTHER MATERIALS: glass eyes; dyed plant fibers; paint

The Morenada (Dance of the Moors) is an annual ceremony in several towns in the Altiplano region of Bolivia, Peru, and northern Chile, usually incorporated into Carnival.  The dance includes both male and female Moors dancing in a group with whips, rattles, or scepters. A King of the Moors (Rey de Morenos) presides and coordinates the dance. The dance typically occurs in the course of a parade, with marching bands playing musical scores for the dancers.  The precise origins of the Morenada are the subject of debate, with most specialists concluding that the dance was inspired by African slaves brought to Bolivia to work the mines or the subsequent integration of Africans into the Yungas community near La Paz.  The morena wears a fancy version of the traditional Bolivian costume with the classic bowler hat.

This mask represents a male moreno, or Moor, made in the 1960s from linen covered in plaster.  The Moors obviously never reached Bolivia, but they are represented in honor of the Spanish reconquest of Granada from the Moors in 1492.  The morenos dance as a group of males and females, both wear an elaborate and colorful costume.  Males carry a scepter, whip, or matraca (rattle).

For more on Bolivian masquerade, see Peter McFarren ed., Masks of the Bolivian Andes (La Paz: Editorial Quipus/Banco Mercantil SA, 1993).

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TITLE: Abuelo Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Bolivia
SUBREGION: Santa Cruz
ETHNICITY: Chiquitano
DESCRIPTION: Abuelo (Grandfather) Mask
MAKER: Unknown maker in San José de Chiquitos
CEREMONY: Danza de los Abuelos
AGE: 2015
MAIN MATERIAL: wood
OTHER MATERIALS: paint

Eastern Bolivia is the home to the indigenous Chiquitano people, also known as the Monkóx.  There are fewer than 150,000 Chiquitanos left in Bolivia, and fewer than 1000 in Brazil.  From May 1 to May 4 every year, the residents of San José de Chiquitos dress in shawls and wooden masks, and carry around walking sticks, dancing as abuelos (grandfathers, or old men) to the sound of traditional flute, violin, and drum music. The origins and meaning of the dance are conjectural, but many believe the white complexion of the mask is intended to poke fun at the light-skinned Spanish colonists and Jesuits who disrupted the lives of the indigenous peoples of eastern Bolivia.

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TITLE: Negrito Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Bolivia
SUBREGION: Oruro
ETHNICITY: Quechua and Aymara
DESCRIPTION: Negrito (Little Black Man) Mask
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Carnival (La Negrada)
AGE: 1970s
MAIN MATERIAL: tin
OTHER MATERIALS: paint; glue; glitter

The negrito is the less common of the two kinds of dark-skinned characters in the Carnival of Oruro, Bolivia. Unlike the moreno, who represent the Moorish invaders of Spain, the negrito represents the progeny of African slaves brought to Bolivia to work the mines and farms. Their costume is colorful and highly embellished, and their hats are frequently as large as the dancer’s body, sometimes decorated with giant spiders, ants, or other totemic animals.  Their dance, like the Morenada, is accompanied by female counterparts, but unlike the Moors, the negritos frequently play musical instruments as they dance, such as drums, guitars, or the güiro scraper shown in this photo.

For more on Bolivian masquerade, see Peter McFarren ed., Masks of the Bolivian Andes (La Paz: Editorial Quipus/Banco Mercantil SA, 1993).

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