TITLE: K’achampa Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Peru
SUBREGION: Cusco
ETHNICITY: Quechua
DESCRIPTION: K’achampa Mask
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: K’achampa Dance
AGE: 1980s
MAIN MATERIAL: wire mesh
OTHER MATERIALS: paint; steel strips

The k’achampa dance is performed throughout the central mountains of Peru to the accompaniment of martial music. The characters include a leader (caporal), soldiers, and children. The dance is performed for different purposes in different parts of Peru. In Cusco, it is performed during Corpus Christi.  In Paucartambo, it is usually part of the Fiesta de la Virgen de Carmen in mid-July. In Ollantaytambo, it is performed at the Feast of the Pentecost on January 6. In all cases, the mask is worn with a costume consisting of an elaborately decorated flat-topped hat or ch’ullu (traditional Andean wool hat with earflaps), a vest with mirrors and bells, a white shirt, black tie, white gloves, black shorts, and vest and dress coat. The masqueraders may also carry a slingshot. The dance is thought to be Incan in origin and to relate to war rituals.


Click above to watch a short documentary on Corpus Christi in Cusco, Peru.

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TITLE: Oddfellows Mask
TYPE: mask
GENERAL REGION: Europe
COUNTRY: United Kingdom (England)
SUBREGION: N/A
ETHNICITY: English
DESCRIPTION: Oddfellows Ceremonial Mask
MAKER: Unknown
FUNCTiON: Secret Society
AGE: early twentieth century
MAIN MATERIAL: wire mesh
OTHER MATERIALS: copper strips; paint

The Oddfellows is a British secret society, founded in 1730 in London as a fraternal order and eventually spreading to the United States as the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. The Oddfellows promote philanthropy and sponsor recreational events for their members. The initiation rituals of the society feature elaborate scripted ceremonies with masks, costumes, and props. The precise use of this mask is unknown, however.

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TITLE: Cajun Mardi Gras
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: North America
COUNTRY: United States of America
SUB-REGION: Acadiana, Louisiana
ETHNICITY: Cajun
DESCRIPTION: Mesh Mardi Gras Mask
MAKER: Chris Raymond (Metairie, Louisiana, 1964- )
CEREMONY: Courir de Mardi Gras
AGE: 2014
MAIN MATERIAL: steel wire mesh
OTHER MATERIALS: dyed cotton cloth; polyester fringe; glue; paint; elastic band

In Catholic practice, Mardi Gras (“Fat Tuesday”) is the last day of celebration of Carnival before the fasting period of Lent. In the Acadiana country of southern Louisiana, the descendants of French Canadian immigrants known as “Cajuns” (short for “Acadians”) celebrate Mardi Gras in a manner quite different from the better known Carnival of New Orleans.  The Courir de Mardi Gras (Mardi Gras parade) occurs in most towns of Cajun country only on Mardi Gras itself.

Masqueraders wear full or partial wire mesh masks and quilted suits with tall, conical hats covered in colorful fabric.  They either ride from farm to farm on horseback or drive as a group in trucks with an unmasked leader wearing the traditional Mardi Gras colors of green, purple, and gold.  When they reach a farm, the captain, who carries a whip in one hand and a white flag in the other, approaches the farmer and asks: “Le Mardi Gras demande votre permission pour visiter ta maison” (“The Mardi Gras requests permission to visit your house”), or words to that effect. Upon assent, the revelers descend and run or crawl toward the house, singing a begging song, then exploding into pranks and comedic antics while the captain tries to subdue them with his whip. The only way to make them leave is to donate gifts or money, traditionally a chicken for the evening gumbo, in which the farmer is invited to partake.

For more on the Acadian Carnival celebration, see the excellent book by Carl Lindahl and Carolyn Ware, Cajun Mardi Gras Masks (University Press of Mississippi, 1997).



A short video featuring Cajun Mardi Gras in Eunice, Louisiana, 2019.

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TITLE: Negrito Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Bolivia
SUBREGION: Oruro
ETHNICITY: Quechua and Aymara
DESCRIPTION: Negrito (Little Black Man) Mask
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Carnival (La Negrada)
AGE: 1970s
MAIN MATERIAL: tin
OTHER MATERIALS: paint; glue; glitter

The negrito is the less common of the two kinds of dark-skinned characters in the Carnival of Oruro, Bolivia. Unlike the moreno, who represent the Moorish invaders of Spain, the negrito represents the progeny of African slaves brought to Bolivia to work the mines and farms. Their costume is colorful and highly embellished, and their hats are frequently as large as the dancer’s body, sometimes decorated with giant spiders, ants, or other totemic animals.  Their dance, like the Morenada, is accompanied by female counterparts, but unlike the Moors, the negritos frequently play musical instruments as they dance, such as drums, guitars, or the güiro scraper shown in this photo.

For more on Bolivian masquerade, see Peter McFarren ed., Masks of the Bolivian Andes (La Paz: Editorial Quipus/Banco Mercantil SA, 1993).

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TITLE: Condor Mask
TYPE: mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Bolivia
SUBREGION: Oruro
ETHNICITY: Quechua and Aymara
DESCRIPTION: Condor Mask
MAKER: Hilarión Casas, La Paz
CEREMONY: Carnival (La Diablada)
AGE: early 1980s
MAIN MATERIAL: tin sheet
OTHER MATERIALS: oil paint (rattle: tin sheet; oil paint; wood handle; chicken feathers)

The lone condor leads the Diablada, the dance of the devils, in the Bolivian Carnival at Oruro without interacting with the other characters.  The condor is the symbol of the Bolivian Republic, and so the character combines patriotism with pre-Christian totemism. The character wears a full body condor suit, usually with adornments of the Bolivian national colors (red, green, and yellow).

This specific mask was made in La Paz by a skilled caretero (mask maker) in the early 1980s.  It was repainted in 2017 to cover the chipping caused by years of active use. It includes an elaborate matraca (rattle) in the shape of a condor, used sometimes by the condor himself, and other times by a diablesa or other character.

For more on Bolivian masquerade, see Peter McFarren ed., Masks of the Bolivian Andes (La Paz: Editorial Quipus/Banco Mercantil SA, 1993).

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TITLE: Ch’uta
TYPE: mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Bolivia
SUBREGION: La Paz
ETHNICITY: Aymara
DESCRIPTION: Ch’uta Mask
MAKER: Unknown maker in La Paz
CEREMONY: Carnival (Danza de las Ch’utas y Pepinos)
AGE: 2017
MAIN MATERIAL: wire mesh
OTHER MATERIALS: wire; ribbons; tassels; sequins; glue; plant fiber; paint

A ch’uta is an indigenous Aymara born and raised in La Paz. The Dance of the Ch’utas and Pepinos is therefore unique to the La Paz region.  The ch’uta wears a wire mesh mask, usually pink or white, decorated with three tassels on the chin (or, increasingly as here, under the mustache), and an elaborate costume with a native wool cap (lluch’u) or hat. They dance to an orchestra with their unmasked female counterpart, the cholita, who wears a traditional pleated skirt (pollera) and bowler hat. The elaborate costume derives from the historical prohibition by the Spanish colonizers on wearing native clothes. The Aymara had to wear European clothes, which the ch’uta elaborates with native additions to mock the colonizers.

For more on Bolivian masquerade, see Peter McFarren ed., Masks of the Bolivian Andes (La Paz: Editorial Quipus/Banco Mercantil SA, 1993).

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TITLE: Mestiza Qollacha
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Peru
SUBREGION: Jauja
ETHNICITY: Quechua; Aymara
DESCRIPTION: Mestiza Qollacha (Mixed Race Woman) Mask
MAKER: Unknown maker from Jauja
CEREMONY: Tunantada (Fiesta de San Sebastián y San Fabián)
AGE: ca. 1980s
MAIN MATERIAL: wire mesh
OTHER MATERIALS: metal strips; paint; elastic strap

The Tunantada dance is a major event during the Fiesta de San Sebastián y San Fabián, patron saints of the city of Jauja, as well as other parts of Peru, including Huaripampa, Mantaro Valley, Yanamarca Valley. In the dance, held every January, participants dress in elaborate European costumes and wear wire mesh masks to imitate and satirize Spaniards. Dancers are accompanied by music from a diverse orchestra. Characters include Spaniards, a prince, muleteers, an Indian women who becomes the lover of the Spaniards (the chupaquina or huanquita) and Indians called chutos and huatrilas. This mask represents a mestiza qollacha (also written qoyacha), or mixed race (Spanish and Quechua) woman, who dances with the españoles.  With the mask, the dancer wears a colorful and elaborately decorated hat and colorful dress.  In some parts of Peru, the dancer wears no mask.


Click above to watch a short documentary on Corpus Christi in Cusco, Peru.

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TITLE: Moreno (Caporal Tundiqui)
TYPE: mask; accessories
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Bolivia
SUBREGION: Oruro
ETHNICITY: Quechua and Aymara
DESCRIPTION: Moreno (Caporal Tundiqui) Mask
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Carnival (La Morenada)
AGE: 1980s
MAIN MATERIAL: tin
OTHER MATERIALS: polyester fiber; paint; dyed feathers

The Morenada (Dance of the Moors) is an annual ceremony in several towns in the Altiplano region of Bolivia, Peru, and northern Chile, usually incorporated into Carnival.  The dance includes both male and female Moors dancing in a group with whips, rattles, or scepters. A King of the Moors (Rey de Morenos) presides and coordinates the dance. The dance typically occurs in the course of a parade, with marching bands playing musical scores for the dancers.  The precise origins of the Morenada are the subject of debate, with most specialists concluding that the dance was inspired by African slaves brought to Bolivia to work the mines or the subsequent integration of Africans into the Yungas community near La Paz.  The morena wears a fancy version of the traditional Bolivian costume with the classic bowler hat.

This mask represents a male moreno, or Moor, made in the 1980s from recycled tin.  The Moors obviously never reached Bolivia, but they are represented in honor of the Spanish reconquest of Granada from the Moors in 1492.  The morenos dance as a group of males and females, both wear an elaborate and colorful costume.  Males carry a scepter, whip, or matraca (rattle)  like the ones shown here.

For more on Bolivian masquerade, see Peter McFarren ed., Masks of the Bolivian Andes (La Paz: Editorial Quipus/Banco Mercantil SA, 1993).

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TITLE: Llamero Mask
TYPE: mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Bolivia
SUBREGION: Oruro
ETHNICITY: Quechua and Aymara
DESCRIPTION: Llamero (llama herder) Mask
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Carnival (La Llamerada)
AGE: 1980s
MAIN MATERIAL: tin
OTHER MATERIALS: dyed vegetable fiber; polyester fiber; paint

The Llamerada (Dance of the Llama Herders) is an annual ceremony in several towns in the Altiplano region of Bolivia, Peru, and northern Chile, usually incorporated into Carnival.  The dance includes both male and female llama herders dancing in a group with rattles or toy llamas (women) or slings (men). Women wear no masks, but the men wear traditional Andean clothing and a mask with pursed lips. The facial expression represents the llama herder whistling for his llamas to follow him.

For more on Bolivian masquerade, see Peter McFarren ed., Masks of the Bolivian Andes (La Paz: Editorial Quipus/Banco Mercantil SA, 1993).

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TITLE: Diablo de Tropa
TYPE: helmet mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Bolivia
SUBREGION: Oruro
ETHNICITY: Quechua and Aymara
DESCRIPTION: Diablo de Tropa (Troop Devil) Mask
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Carnival (La Diablada)
AGE: ca. 1970s
MAIN MATERIAL: recycled tin sheet
OTHER MATERIALS: paint; metal springs; glitter; glue

The Diablada is an important part of Carnival in several towns in the Altiplano region of Bolivia, Peru, and northern Chile.  The Diablada of Oruro, Bolivia, is famous for the large numbers of participants and the elaborateness of their masks and costumes.

The dance dates back to pre-colonial times and was adapted under the influence of the Spanish missionaries to conform to the Catholic doctrine of the struggle between good and evil.  The dance begins with the Archangel Michael commanding personified seven virtues against Lucifer and his personified seven deadly sins and an army of male and female devils.  Other non-European characters, such as the Andean Condor and the jukumari bear, also play a role.

The dance typically occurs in the course of the parade, with marching bands playing musical scores dating back to the 17th century.  In practice, the dance includes both male and female devils dancing in a group led by (rather than opposed by) the Archangel Michael.  Troop devils (diablos de tropa or demonios de tropa) are the standard parade devil, with dragons on the head to represent ferocity.

For more on Bolivian masquerade, see Peter McFarren ed., Masks of the Bolivian Andes (La Paz: Editorial Quipus/Banco Mercantil SA, 1993).

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