TITLE: Piaroa Kohue Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
SUBREGION: Orinoco River Basin
DESCRIPTION: Kohue (Vampire Bat) Mask
CEREMONY: Warime Ritual
MAIN MATERIAL: clay
OTHER MATERIALS: wicker; bark cloth; beeswax; pigment; dried grass
The Piaroa people inhabit the Orinoco River Basin region of Venezuela and northern Brazil. They are an extremely peaceful people with a political structure that anthropologists describe as nearly anarchic.
The warime ceremony is the biggest festival of Piaroa society. It includes a purification ritual in which masqueraders represent animal spirits and proclaim their deeds of the year to the tribe, good and bad, to seek respectively praise or forgiveness. This mask represents an animal spirit, specifically the Kohue (vampire bat).
Masqueraders must receive religious instruction from a shaman beforehand, and his incantation is accompanied by music on traditional instruments.