TITLE: Siqlla / Doctorcito
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Peru
SUBREGION: Cusco
ETHNICITY: Quechua; Aymara
DESCRIPTION: Siqlla (Doctorcito, or Little Doctor) Mask
MAKER: Unknown maker in Paucartambo
CEREMONY: Danza Wayra (Kuwallada)
AGE: 2011
MAIN MATERIAL: paper maché
OTHER MATERIALS: plaster; paint; string

The city of Paucartambo, Peru, celebrates the Festival of the Virgin of Carmen (Mamacha 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 festival involving numerous masked characters in elaborate costumes. One component of Kuwallada is the Danza Wayra, also called Danza Siqlla or Siqlla, after the Quechua word for this character. The term wayra is Quechua for “wind,” probably referring to the “hot air” blown by liars; siqlla has no equivalent English word. Technically, these two dances are slight variations of each other, distinguishable by costume differences.  However, both satirize the grasping lawyers (in this context, “doctorcito” refers to a doctor of law, not a medical doctor), judges, and politicians of the town who are arrogant or abusive toward the indigenous population.

The dance is also performed throughout the Cusco region, including in Cusco itself, Pisaq, and Ollantaytambo.  It centers around a trial of an indigenous man (maqta), recited in Quechua and Spanish. The prosecutor leads the dance, followed by a mayor, lawyers, and the maqta. Most of the characters have exaggerated noses and fancy European clothes (except the maqta, who wears traditional Peruvian garb), but the lawyers are distinguished in carrying a bible and a whip.


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

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TITLE: Diablo Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Peru
SUBREGION: Cuzco
ETHNICITY: Quechua and Aymara
DESCRIPTION: Diablo (Devil) Helmet Mask
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Carnival
AGE: ca. 1980s
MAIN MATERIAL: paper maché; plaster
OTHER MATERIALS: wire mesh; paint

Carnival is the Catholic festival that precedes the fasting season of Lent, a period known as Shrovetide. In Peru, Carnival celebrations typically include parades of masked and costumed characters, marching or dancing to music, and street celebrations, often accompanied by water battles. Costumes portray a mix of Christian and indigenous themes with an emphasis on parody and parable. Common characters include devils, Spaniards, Moors, and angels.

While most modern Peruvian masks are made from tin, or increasingly fiberglass or plastic, this mask is made in the older style of paper maché coated with plaster.


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

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TITLE: Huatrila
TYPE: helmet mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Peru
SUBREGION: Jauja or Huaripampa
ETHNICITY: Quechua
DESCRIPTION: Hautrila Mask
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Tunantada; Chonginada
AGE: 1979
MAIN MATERIAL: leather
OTHER MATERIALS: wool; glass eyes; pigment

The Tunantada is a dance performed in the Jauja region of Peru during the January Festival of San Sebatián and San Fabián, patron saints of the town. Dancers in wire mesh masks represent the Spaniards, who oppress the chutos, or Amerindians.  The huatrila is a kind of clown chuto who personifies the first Jaujan (Hatun Runa).  The dance-drama satirizes all the groups of the colonial period.  It is a group dance, in which each character of the set performs different steps to the rhythm of a single melody.

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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: 1980s
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: Kusillo
TYPE: mask and costume
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Peru
SUBREGION: Puno
ETHNICITY: Aymara; Quechua
DESCRIPTION: Kusillo Mask and Costume
MAKER: Unknown maker in Puno
CEREMONY: Agriculture/Hunting; Carnival
AGE: 1980s
MAIN MATERIAL: dyed wool felt
OTHER MATERIALS: yarn; cardboard; sequins; cotton batting

The kusillo is an Andean clown character that combines attributes of an insect, shepherd, and devil, although he is considered a benevolent trickster. It is one of the oldest masked characters in the region, predating the Spanish conquest. It is used in both Bolivia and Peru as a comic dancer, as well as a promoter of fertility during agricultural and hunting rites. Until the 1960s, the kusillos formed their own dance group, however, with their own music and group choreography. In modern times, he makes his appearance alone or in pairs during Carnival, along with the waka tokhoris or other groups, and sometimes at other festivities as well.

The upturned nose and appendages on the head are thought to be phallic symbols, expressing the kusillo‘s nature as a promoter of fertility. In addition, the kusillo tries to seduce girls in the crowd, reflecting both his fertility and trickster roles.  To facilitate this behavior, socially unacceptable otherwise, he wears white gloves and long pants to prevent recognition.

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TITLE: Mestiza Qollacha
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Peru
SUBREGION: Jauja
ETHNICITY: Quechua; Aymara
DESCRIPTION: Mestiza Qollacha (Mixed Race Woman) Mask
MAKER: Unknown maker from Jauja
CEREMONY: Tunantada (Fiesta de San Sebastián y San Fabián)
AGE: ca. 1980s
MAIN MATERIAL: wire mesh
OTHER MATERIALS: metal strips; paint; elastic strap

The Tunantada dance is a major event during the Fiesta de San Sebastián y San Fabián, patron saints of the city of Jauja, as well as other parts of Peru, including Huaripampa, Mantaro Valley, Yanamarca Valley. In the dance, held every January, participants dress in elaborate European costumes and wear wire mesh masks to imitate and satirize Spaniards. Dancers are accompanied by music from a diverse orchestra. Characters include Spaniards, a prince, muleteers, an Indian women who becomes the lover of the Spaniards (the chupaquina or huanquita) and Indians called chutos and huatrilas. This mask represents a mestiza qollacha (also written qoyacha), or mixed race (Spanish and Quechua) woman, who dances with the españoles.  With the mask, the dancer wears a colorful and elaborately decorated hat and colorful dress.  In some parts of Peru, the dancer wears no mask.


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

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TITLE: Saqra Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Peru
SUBREGION: Paucartambo
ETHNICITY: Quechua; Aymara
DESCRIPTION: Saqra (Devil) Mask
MAKER: Unknown maker in Paucartambo
CEREMONY: Danza Saqra (Kuwallada)
AGE: ca. 1970s-1980s
MAIN MATERIAL: paper maché
OTHER MATERIALS: plaster; paint; string

The city of Paucartambo, Peru, celebrates the Festival of the Virgin of Carmen (Mamacha 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 festival involving numerous masked characters in elaborate costumes. One component of Kuwallada is the Danza Saqra.  The term saqra is Quechua for “wicked” or “devil” and represents tricksters dressed as animals or devils.  They are not really “evil,” but merely mischievous.

The saqra troupe has a fairly complex organization, with a leader (caporal), two captains (capitánes), a female saqra (china saqra), soldiers, “pets” (mascotas), clowns known as maitas or qhapac qollas, who wear the waq’ollo mask, and the carguyoc, who is an organizer who accompanies (and provides beer for) the musicians.


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: Cusco
ETHNICITY: Quechua; Aymara
DESCRIPTION: Majeño (merchant) Mask
MAKER: Angel Castillo Medina, Cusco
CEREMONY: Kuwallada Dance
AGE: ca. 1990s
MAIN MATERIAL: paper maché
OTHER MATERIALS: plaster; 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 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.


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

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TITLE: Qhapaq Negro Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Peru
SUBREGION: Cusco
ETHNICITY: Quechua; Aymara
DESCRIPTION: Qhapaq Negro (Great Black)
MAKER: Unknown maker in Paucartambo
CEREMONY: Kuwallada Dance (Fiesta de la Virgen del Carmen)
AGE: 2011
MAIN MATERIAL: paper maché
OTHER MATERIALS: plaster; 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: Chonguino Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Peru
SUBREGION: Jauja
ETHNICITY: Quechua; Aymara
DESCRIPTION: Chonguino or Español (Spaniard) Mask
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Tunantada (Fiesta de San Sebastián y San Fabián)
AGE: ca. 1980s
MAIN MATERIAL: wire mesh
OTHER MATERIALS: hair; oil paint; copper

The Tunantada dance is a major event during the Fiesta de San Sebastián y San Fabián, patron saints of the city of Jauja, as well as other parts of Peru, including Huaripampa, Mantaro Valley, Yanamarca Valley. In the dance, held every January, participants dress in elaborate European costumes and wear wire mesh masks to imitate and satirize Spaniards (called chonguinos or españoles). Dancers are accompanied by music from a diverse orchestra. Characters include Spaniards, a prince, muleteers, an Indian women who becomes the lover of the Spaniards (the chupaquina or huanquita) and Indians called chutos and huatrilas.

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