TITLE: China Morena Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
ETHNICITY: Quechua and Aymara
DESCRIPTION: China Morena (“Brunette Woman”) mask
CATALOG ID: LABO020
CEREMONY: Carnival (La Morenada)
MAIN MATERIAL: tin
OTHER MATERIALS: polyester fiber; 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 china morena, or brunette woman, made in the 1980s from recycled tin. The actual dancer wearing the mask may be female or a male in drag.
For more on Bolivian masquerade, see Peter McFarren ed., Masks of the Bolivian Andes (La Paz: Editorial Quipus/Banco Mercantil SA, 1993).