TITLE: Loco Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Peru
SUBREGION: Huánuco District
ETHNICITY: Quechua
DESCRIPTION: Loco (Crazy Man) Mask
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Carnival
AGE: 1970s
MAIN MATERIAL: glove leather
OTHER MATERIALS: cardboard; wool stuffing; plant fiber; stitching; paint

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 most of Latin America, Carnival is celebrated with masked dances and parades.

This loco, or crazy man, mask comes from the region of Huánaco in central Peru. It is popularly used by masqueraders to frighten children.

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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: 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: Waq’ollo
TYPE: hood mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Peru
SUBREGION: Cusco
ETHNICITY: Quechua
DESCRIPTION: Waq’ollo Mask for Qhapaq Q’olla
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Qhapaq Q’olla Dance (Qoyllur Rit’i; Fiesta de la Virgen del Carmen; Corpus Christi)
AGE: 2019
MAIN MATERIAL: dyed and knitted wool-acrylic blend
OTHER MATERIALS: N/A

In the Altiplano of Bolivia and Peru, the Quechua and Aymara descendants of the Incans still celebrate Qoyllur Rit’i, the Snow Star Festival in late May or early June to hale the reappearance of the Pleiades constellation and the harvest. Although the Catholic Church has attempted to co-opt the event, it maintains its essentially pre-Spanish conquest character.  Pilgrims from around Peru assemble in the Sinakara Valley in various costumes to dance in celebration. The Qhapaq Q’olla (“mighty Indian”) is one such character, dancing in the waq’ollo mask shown here with a hat, woven sling and a dried vicuña skin. Supposedly they represent a merchant who is half human and half llama, and who brings goods to the Cusco region for sale from the jungle and Paucartambo region, such as pisco liquor. Their roles are primarily that of clown, but they also dance and sing to the Virgin of Paucartambo. They sometimes wear a square flat hat called an aqarapi, and dance in a group.  The group is composed of a Mayor (alcalde), who carries a wooden staff of authority and a black crucifix on his mask, and his wife (la Imilla), a child (q’ollita), two captains, a llama herder (llamero), who wanders into the crowd to pretend to sell his goods, and a group of q’ollas dancing in two rows.  The imilla has a face covered by a black veil.  Qhapaq Q’olla also dance at Corpus Christi parades in Cusco and other religious celebrations.

The q’ollas, aligned according to their age, dance together, led by the captains.Sometimes children called chanako accompany them as well. The musical ensemble that accompanies them consists of a violin, an accordion, a bass drum and several Quena performers.  The q’ollas are always men born in Paucartambo. The costume consists of a flat, rectangular hat (aqarapi) decorated with sequins, old coins or beads; the waq’ollo; a lliclla skin made of vicuña wool, and the qepi that contains a young dead vicuña.  the dance, the collas sing Quechua songs about their commercial activity, their journey to Cusco, and their protective saints.

Although traditionally made of llama wool, the waq’ollo is now commonly made of sheep wool or, as here, acrylic wool. The masks shown here have a modern take on the traditional, white style, with loud green stripes or a U.S. flag.


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: Huacón Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Peru
SUBREGION: Mito
ETHNICITY: Quechua
DESCRIPTION: Huacón Mask
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Baile de la Huaconada
AGE: 1960s
MAIN MATERIAL: wood
OTHER MATERIALS: pigment

The Huaconada is a dance performed in the town of Mito, Concepción Province, in Peru. The dance is performed during the first three days of January.  The huacones wear wood masks replicating an old face, nearly always with a twisted mouth, and wear either of two types of costumes, traditional or modern. The huacones represent traditional village elders and, during the dancing days, they act as the highest political authority of Mito.  They carry whips (tronadores) to symbolize their political power.  The dance is accompanied by a small orchestra with an Andean drum known as tinya. Masks and costumes are passed down through the generations to those considered meritorious.

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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: Waq’ollo
TYPE: hood mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Peru
ETHNICITY: Quechua
DESCRIPTION: Waq’ollo Mask for Qhapaq Q’olla
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Dance of the Qhapaq Q’olla (Qoyllur Rit’i; Corpus Christi; Fiesta de la Virgen del Carmen)
AGE: 1970s
MAIN MATERIAL: dyed and knitted llama wool
OTHER MATERIALS: N/A

In the Altiplano of Bolivia and Peru, the Quechua and Aymara descendants of the Incans still celebrate Qoyllur Rit’i, the Snow Star Festival in late May or early June to hale the reappearance of the Pleiades constellation and the harvest. Although the Catholic Church has attempted to co-opt the event, it maintains its essentially pre-Spanish conquest character.  Pilgrims from around Peru assemble in the Sinakara Valley in various costumes to dance in celebration. The Qhapaq Q’olla (“mighty Indian”) is one such character, dancing in the waq’ollo mask shown here with a hat, woven sling and a dried vicuña skin. Supposedly they represent a merchant who is half human and half llama, and who brings goods to the Cusco region for sale from the jungle and Paucartambo region, such as pisco liquor. Their roles are primarily that of clown, but they also dance and sing to the Virgin of Paucartambo. They sometimes wear a square flat hat called an aqarapi, and dance in a group.  The group is composed of a Mayor (alcalde), who carries a wooden staff of authority and a black crucifix on his mask, and his wife (la Imilla), a child (q’ollita), two captains, a llama herder (llamero), who wanders into the crowd to pretend to sell his goods, and a group of q’ollas dancing in two rows.  The imilla has a face covered by a black veil.  Qhapaq Q’olla also dance at Corpus Christi parades in Cusco and other religious celebrations.

The q’ollas, aligned according to their age, dance together, led by the captains. Sometimes children called chanako accompany them as well. The musical ensemble that accompanies them consists of a violin, an accordion, a bass drum and several Quena performers.  The q’ollas are always men born in Paucartambo. The costume consists of a flat, rectangular hat (aqarapi) decorated with sequins, old coins or beads; the waq’ollo; a lliclla skin made of vicuña wool, and the qepi that contains a young dead vicuña.  the dance, the collas sing Quechua songs about their commercial activity, their journey to Cusco, and their protective saints.


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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