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: 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: 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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TITLE: Contradanza Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Peru
SUBREGION: Cusco
ETHNICITY: Quechua
DESCRIPTION: 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 was made and used for five years in the town of Pisaq.


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

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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: 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: 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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