TITLE: Aya Huma
TYPE: hood mask
COUNTRY: Ecuador
SUBREGION: Tabacundo
DESCRIPTION: Aya Huma (Diablo Umo)
MAKER: Unknown maker in Tabacundo
CEREMONY: Inti Raymi
AGE: early 1970s
MAIN MATERIAL: dyed felt cloth
OTHER MATERIALS: dyed thread; cotton wadding

In Ecuador and Peru, the winter solstice is sometimes still celebrated by honoring the Incan sun god, Inti.  Some mistakenly consider this a summer solstice ceremony, apparently forgetting that, except in Colombia and the northern tip of Ecuador, the Andes are south of the Equator.   Inti Raymi takes place annually on June 24 and recreates the Incan ceremonies of the period.

Among the regalia worn during the celebration is the Aya Huma mask and suit, sometimes known as Diablo Umo. The Aya Huma carries a whip to drive away evil spirits during the ceremony. His mask is double-sided so that he cannot be surprised by evil spirits from behind. The rather symmetrical ears and noses represent the four cardinal points.  Although traditionally representing a protector spirit, Catholic zealots among the colonizers branded the masquerader satanic, whence comes the name Diablo Umo (Devil Head).


TITLE: Rey Moro Mask
TYPE: face mask
COUNTRY: Ecuador
SUBREGION: Latacunga
DESCRIPTION: Rey Moro (King Moor) Mask
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Fiesta de la Mama Negra
AGE: 1920s-1930s

The Fiesta de la Mama Negra (Festival of the Black Mama) is a celebration held in September and again in early November in Latacunga, Ecuador. The event originates in pre-colonial indigenous practices and was adapted to honor the Virgin of Mercy (Virgen de la Merced) after Catholic conversion, in thanks for her supposed  intervention to protect the population from eruptions from the nearby Cotopaxi volcano.  The festival has become one of the most important in Latacunga, and includes a parade (comparsa) featuring the Mama Negra prominently as an African version of Mary, mother of Jesus.

Other important masks include animals, the Rey Moro (King Moor, showing the influence of the Conquistadors), angels, clowns (payasos abanderados), shamans (huacos), and miscellaneous other characters.  This mask, dating back to the early twentieth century, most probably represents the Rey Moro, judging by the Islamic star on his forehead.