TITLE: Payaso Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
ETHNICITY: Nahua & Mixtec
DESCRIPTION: Payaso (Clown) Mask
MAKER: Francisco de Aquino, Xochitlán (1928-2003)
CEREMONY: Carnival; Danza de los Huehues
MAIN MATERIAL: wood
OTHER MATERIALS: oil-based paint; cotton string
Payaso (clown) masks are very popular throughout Latin America. They are commonly worn at Carnival and also during important religious holidays. In Puebla, clowns are regular characters in the Danza de los Huehues.
Huehue means village elder. The Danza de los Huehues predates the Spanish conquest and is believed to have begun around Day of the Dead, when village elders helped the widows to find shelter after their husbands died in battle. Some believe the dance originated in Tlaxcala or Huasteca and spread to Puebla. The Devil is a character added by way of Catholic influence; he is charged with harassing the dancers and audience during the performance. The dance is typically held in late June, in honor of a patron saint.