TITLE: Aya Huma
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
DESCRIPTION: Aya Huma (Diablo Umo)
MAKER: Unknown maker in Otavalo
CEREMONY: Inti Raymi
AGE: late 1990s
MAIN MATERIAL: dyed acrylic wool yarn
OTHER MATERIALS: N/A
In Ecuador and Peru, the winter solstice is sometimes still celebrated by honoring the Incan sun god, Inti. Some mistakenly consider this a summer solstice ceremony, apparently forgetting that, except in Colombia and the northern tip of Ecuador, the Andes are south of the Equator. Inti Raymi takes place annually on June 24 and recreates the Incan ceremonies of the period.
Among the regalia worn during the celebration is the Aya Huma mask and suit, sometimes known as Diablo Umo. The Aya Huma carries a whip to drive away evil spirits during the ceremony. His mask is double-sided so that he cannot be surprised by evil spirits from behind. The rather symmetrical ears and noses represent the four cardinal points. Although traditionally representing a protector spirit, Catholic zealots among the colonizers branded the masquerader satanic, whence comes the name Diablo Umo (Devil Head).