TITLE: Diablo Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
SUBREGION: Mexico State
DESCRIPTION: Diablo (Devil) Mask
MAKER: Emmanuel Vázquez, Mexico City (1982- )
CEREMONY: Día de los Muertos
MAIN MATERIAL: paper maché
OTHER MATERIALS: paint; polyester ribbon
Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is an annual celebration in Mexico whose origin dates back to the Aztecs. It was originally part of the cult of worship of the goddess Mictecacihuatl held during the summer, but with colonization it was syncretized to coincide with the Catholic holiday Allhallowtide. It is now primarily held on October 31 and November 1.
During Día de los Muertos, Mexican families set up altars (ofrendas) to memorialize departed loved ones and hold night-long vigils at their graves. It is believed that the spirits (fantasmas) visit their families, with the children returning on October 1 and the adults on November 1. The altars contain offerings of the things most enjoyed by the departed, primarily sweets and games for children and mescal, fruits, sweet bread (pan de muerto), and savory foods for adults. In addition, townspeople in some places, such as Oaxaca, hold costumed parades (comparsas), with such characters as skeletons (calaveras), Aztecs, and devils prominently represented, mixed more recently with Halloween characters taken from U.S. popular culture.
In Mexico City and surrounding areas, the Halloween element of Día de los Muertos dominates. Residents of Mexico City frequently dress in elaborate costumes, sometimes with masks, but more frequently with faces painted like catrins and catrinas (highly decorated, elegant skeletons representing wealthy Spaniards). This mask was hand made by an artisan in Mexico City to be sold for the former purpose.