TITLE: Vejigante Mask and Costume of Ponce
TYPE: face mask; costume
GENERAL REGION: Caribbean
COUNTRY: Puerto Rico
DESCRIPTION: Vejigante Mask and Costume in Puerto Rico Flag Colors
MAKER (Mask): Unknown maker in Ponce
MAKER (Costume): Gloria E. Cruz Guevara (Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA / Vieques, Puerto Rico, 1977- )
AGE (Mask): 1980s
AGE (Costume): 2021
MAIN MATERIAL (Mask): paper maché
OTHER MATERIALS (Mask): gesso; paint
MATERIALS (Costume): dyed poly poplin cloth; dyed satin polyester cloth; stitching; elastic bands
The Carnival paraders of Ponce, Puerto Rico traditionally use paper maché masks with multiple horns and sharp teeth, accompanied by colorful and frilly costumes, to represent fantastic devils. Most consider that the more horns a mask has, the better. Formerly, participants carried an inflated goat or cow bladder (vejiga) on a string with which to bop passers-by on the posterior. This is how the character got its name, vejigante (bladder-carrier). Today, goat bladders are in short supply, and this practice is rare. Vejigantes nonetheless remain an indispensable part of the Ponce Carnival.
A unique feature of the Ponce carnival is that it includes the burial of a giant symbolic sardine, carried by a parader dressed as a friar and another dressed as a hooked sardine. The sardine symbolizes the Carnival itself, and the burial marks its end.
This specific mask was worn in the parade of Ponce during the 1980s; the costume was specially made for the Museum by a seamstress on the island of Vieques, Puerto Rico.