TITLE: Achachi Paxlo
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
ETHNICITY: Quechua and Aymara
DESCRIPTION: Achachi Paxlo Helmet Mask
CEREMONY: Carnival (La Diablada)
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).