TITLE: Saqra Mesh Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Peru
SUBREGION: Paucartambo
ETHNICITY: Quechua; Aymara
DESCRIPTION: Saqra (Devil) Mask
MAKER: Unknown maker in Ollantaytambo
CEREMONY: Danza Saqra (Kuwallada)
AGE: 2019
MAIN MATERIAL: wire mesh
OTHER MATERIALS: metal strips; plastic; foam rubber; paint; string

Throughout the highlands of Peru, major festivals include masked dances. One common dance in many towns is the Kuwallada, which includes a Danza Saqra, or dance of the devils. 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. In most places, the saqra mask is made of paper maché, covered in plaster and painted. In the ancient town of Ollantaytambo, however, the saqra is a metal mesh mask, with foam rubber ears, horns, and other adornments.

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TITLE: Saqra Eagle Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Peru
SUBREGION: Paucartambo
ETHNICITY: Quechua; Aymara
DESCRIPTION: Saqra (Devil) Mask of an Eagle
MAKER: Adriel Ordoñez (Cusco, 1994- )
CEREMONY: Danza Saqra (Kuwallada)
AGE: 2018
MAIN MATERIAL: paper maché
OTHER MATERIALS: plaster; paint

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.

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TITLE: Negrillo (Negrito) Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Peru
SUBREGION: Cusco
ETHNICITY: Quechua; Aymara
DESCRIPTION: Negrillo or Negrito (Little Black Man) Mask
MAKER: Adriel Ordoñez (Cusco, 1994- )
CEREMONY: Danza Negrillos (Fiesta de la Virgen del Carmen)
AGE: 2019
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 Danza Negrillos a dance involving numerous masked characters in elaborate costumes. The Negrillos, also known as Negritos (little black man), represent the slaves brought to work the gold mines in the early colonial period. They dance in two groups, holding thin ropes to keep the group together, with a caporal (captain) in the middle.  The Negrillos is a relatively recent addition to the Festival, and, like the Qhapac Negro dance, represents the slaves who were brought to Peru to mine silver and pick cotton.

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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: Mario Palomino Coll Cárdenas (Cusco, 1949- )
CEREMONY: Danza Saqra (Kuwallada)
AGE: 2018
MAIN MATERIAL: paper maché
OTHER MATERIALS: plaster; paint; metal wire

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.

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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 Cusco
CEREMONY: Kuwallada Dance (Fiesta de la Virgen del Carmen)
AGE: 2019
MAIN MATERIAL: fiberglass
OTHER MATERIALS: 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.

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TITLE: Maqta Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Peru
SUBREGION: Cusco
ETHNICITY: Quechua; Aymara
DESCRIPTION: Maqta (Servant) / Cieguito (Half-Blind) Mask
MAKER: Adriel Ordoñez (Cusco, 1994- )
CEREMONY: Corpus Christi; Fiesta de la Virgen del Carmen
AGE: 2019
MAIN MATERIAL: paper maché
OTHER MATERIALS: plaster; paint

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. A wide variety of dances and dance-dramas are performed during this celebration, as well as others such as Corpus Christi and Carnival.  In nearly every dance troupe is found at least one maqta (servant) character. The maqta dresses as an indigenous Quechua man and serves a crucial role in cultural celebrations in the Cusco Region.  In some dance dramas, he is an important character who represents the poor indigenous folk.  In other dances, he is primarily a clown (bufón) who amuses the audience with his antics, harassing other characters and spectators, and playing tricks on other maqtas.

This maqta is has a hilarious wink and is sometimes known as the cieguito, or half-blind one.

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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) Mask
MAKER: Unknown maker in Cusco Region
CEREMONY: Kuwallada Dance (Fiesta de la Virgen del Carmen)
AGE: 1940s
MAIN MATERIAL: plaster
OTHER MATERIALS: 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.

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TITLE: Contradanza (Caporal) Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Peru
SUBREGION: Cusco
ETHNICITY: Quechua
DESCRIPTION: Caporal de la 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 represents the caporal.  It is identical to the siqlla, or doctorcito, mask, except that the caporal‘s facial expression is bellicose instead of smiling.

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TITLE: Majeño Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Peru
SUBREGION: Pisaq, Cusco
ETHNICITY: Quechua; Aymara
DESCRIPTION: Majeño (Merchant) Mask
MAKER: Dionicio Huamán Ayma (Sicuani, 1950- )
CEREMONY: Fiesta de la Virgen del Carmen (Kuwallada Dance)
AGE: 2014
MAIN MATERIAL: paper maché
OTHER MATERIALS: plaster; paint; foam rubber; string

Several cities in the area of Paucartambo, Peru, in the Cusco Region, 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). They dance uproariously, carrying about bottles of alcohol, except in the presence of the image of the Virgin. The leading majeño (majeño mayor) is accompanied by a dancer wearing a female’s mask and dress who carries the liquor for the group.

This mask was made in Pisaq and used there during the Fiesta from 2014 to 2019.

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TITLE: Halloween Android Mask
TYPE: helmet mask
GENERAL REGION: North America
COUNTRY: United States of America
SUBREGION: Hollywood
ETHNICITY: Mixed
DESCRIPTION: Silicone Lycan Mask
MAKER: Design: Andrew Freeman (1981- , West Covina, California); Manufacture: Immortal Masks, Inc., San Dimas, California
CEREMONY: Halloween
AGE: 2019
MAIN MATERIAL: cured silicone
OTHER MATERIALS: silicone-based paint; silicone adhesive; polyester mesh; synthetic fur

Halloween is one of the major secular festivals in the United States, celebrated on October 31st each year.  It originated in pre-Christian times, possibly among the ancient Celts, who practiced Samhain in late fall by wearing frightening costumes and lighting bonfires in mid-autumn to scare away ghosts. In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III declared November 1st as a day to honor all the saints collectively. The celebration prior to this All Saints Day became known as All Hallows’ Eve (hence the shortened name, All Hallowe’en, eventually elided to Halloween), and involved many of the same traditions practiced by the Celts.

Halloween formerly had many traditions that varied by region.  In modern and relatively homogenized practice, Halloween generally has three main components: costumed parties, “trick-or-treating,” and haunted houses.  Costumed parties are the modern descendant of social activities designed to honor the saints and create solidarity in the community. Children’s parties typically involved games with prizes, such as bobbing for apples and carving pumpkins and other relatively dry squash into frightening “jack-o-lanterns” with candles inside for illumination.  Adult parties commonly involve less innocent games and elaborate decorations to create a scary mood.

Trick-or-treating is the children’s practice of wearing scary costumes to extort candy and other sweets from neighbors. Like roaming goblins, the monsters visiting the house would demand a treat or threaten to play a nasty trick on the neighbor. The threat is of course a formality, as sharing candy with trick-or-treaters is considered a mandatory practice for friendly and community-spirited neighbors. In modern practice, many children have abandoned the tradition of wearing frightening costumes and have leaned toward fantasy characters such as superheroes, princesses, and fairies.

Haunted houses are a relatively modern innovation.  They may be designed and staffed by volunteers or for profit, and generally take the form of a decrepit mansion haunted by ghosts, mad scientists, monsters, the walking dead, etc. The idea is to inspire terror and wonder in a factually safe environment.

In addition, many Americans celebrate by watching horror movies (the release of which Hollywood times to coincide with the Halloween season), and in some regions, most notably Greenwich Village, Manhattan in New York and Salem, Massachusetts, major costumed parades are organized each year.  In many cities, “zombie walks” composed of masses of costumed zombies have been organized as well.

Popular masks and costumes include devils, zombies, skeletons, vampires, werewolves, mummies, witches, pirates, political figures, and characters from popular culture, such as Frankenstein’s monster. However, Halloween costumes can include almost anything, including inanimate objects and abstractions.  The choice is limited only by the imagination of the masquerader.  Masks and costumes depicting offensive racial stereotypes, popular prior to the 1980s, are no longer widely used.

This werewolf mask, called Lycan in the studio’s catalog, was designed by Andrew Freeman and hand made at Immortal Masks, Inc.  Immortal Masks is a manufacturer of highly realistic silicone-based masks that conform to and move with the wearer’s face.

Click above to watch a short documentary about Immortal Masks, the maker of this mask.

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