TITLE: Tarahumara Chaperon Mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
DESCRIPTION: Chaperon Mask
CEREMONY: Danza de los Matachines; Pascola; Agriculture; Healing; Funeral
AGE: early 1960s
MAIN MATERIAL: wood
OTHER MATERIALS: goat leather and hair; iron nails
The Tarahumara are the largest indigenous ethnic group in Chihuahua, Mexico. Among their rituals are the Dance of the Matachines, in which dancers invoke spirits to ensure a good harvest. The dance is performed by a eight to twelve couples to the music of violins, guitars, and flutes. Chaperones, the only masked characters, mark the rhythm by yelling and also ensure all the dancers wear the right garments.
Such masks may also be used in pascola dances celebrating religious holidays, such as the Feast of the Epiphany (January) or Holy Week (February or March). Masked dances may also be used to pray for rain or heal, the sick, or at funerals.