TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Europe
MAKER: Romeu Jorge Fernandes (Ousilhão, Vinhais, 1988- )
CEREMONY: Festa de Santo Estevão
PURPOSE: Adult Initiation; Celebration
MAIN MATERIAL: mulberry wood
OTHER MATERIALS: N/A
The caretos of the tiny village of Ousilhão, in the Vinhais township of Bragança, wear their masks not at Carnival, but during a winter festival in honor of the patron saint of the village, St. Steven (Santo Estevão). This festival is also known as the Festa dos Rapazes (Festival of the Boys), because it serves as an adult initiation ceremony for pubescent boys. The celebration is held on December 25-26 each year, and begins when the village priest symbolically crowns three men in the village square as a king and two vassals. These individuals are responsible for supplying the food and drink in the festivities to follow.
The ceremony that follows involves four masqueraders (historically men, but now women participate as well) bringing boys to the feast wearing demonic masks (caretos) and colorful, cloth costumes. Before and during the feasting and drinking, the masqueraders will sing and dance to the music of bagpipes (gaita de foles), castanets, and drums. Their goal is to make the initiates thoroughly drunk.
Afterward, unmasked villagers carry the image of St. Steven to the village church. The masked characters, being both demonic and drunk, are not allowed to enter the church.
This mask was carved by Romeu Jorge, a military policeman who has been carving the masks since the age of 12.