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

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 china morena, or female Moor, made in the 1980s from recycled tin.  The actual dancer wearing the mask may be male or female.

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: Chinelo Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Mexico
SUBREGION: Morelos
ETHNICITY: Nahua
DESCRIPTION: Chinelo Mask
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Carnival
AGE: 1984
MAIN MATERIAL: metal wire mesh
OTHER MATERIALS: metal strips; dyed ixtle fiber; oil-based paint

The Carnival of Morelos typically features the popular figure of fun, the chinelo, a Spanish version of the Nahuatl word zineloquie, or “disguised.” As occurred in many parts of Mexico, dances developed during Carnival as a means of expressing indigenous resentment of the European colonists.  In Morelos, the primary object of frustration was the sugar cane plantation, in which native labor was exploited while Spanish colonists enriched themselves. The chinelos represent a grotesque caricature of the invaders, with their fancy clothing, fair skin, elaborate facial hair, and arrogant mannerisms. Chinelo costumes are especially elaborate, often made to resemble velvet or satin, with bright and intricate designs in beads, sequins, fur, and feathers covering the robe and hat.  The dance of the chinelos, called the brincón (“hop”), is a series of repetitive, energetic hops to the fast-paced blare of drums, and of brass and woodwind instruments.

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TITLE: Diablesa
TYPE: mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Bolivia
SUBREGION: Oruro
ETHNICITY: Quechua and Aymara
DESCRIPTION: Diablesa Mask
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Carnival (La Diablada)
AGE: ca. late 1970s
MAIN MATERIAL: tin sheet
OTHER MATERIALS: brass chain; synthetic fibers; paint

The Diablada (Dance of the Devils) 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 devils dancing in a group led by the Archangel Michael.

This mask represents a diablesa (female devil), made from recycled tin, spray painted and hand finished. The costume of the diablesa in Oruro is usually elaborately decorated and somewhat revealing, although the character may be danced by a man or a woman.

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: Español Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Ecuador
SUBREGION: San Andres
ETHNICITY: Quechua; Aymara
DESCRIPTION: Español (Spaniard) Mask
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Corpus Christi
AGE: ca. 1970s
MAIN MATERIAL: wire mesh
OTHER MATERIALS: metal strips; pig hair; paint

In Ecuador, as in Peru, wire mesh masks and elaborate costumes are worn to celebrate Corpus Christi and promote a good harvest. A carved wooden image of Jesus is accompanied through the town to the local church, where dancers and their families attend Mass. They then dance in a local ceremony attended by most of the village. The masks and costumes are intended to represent and parody well-dressed Spanish dandies. Both costumes and masks are frequently adorned with coins to parody the wealth of the Spaniards. Each dancer is accompanied by his family and musicians throughout.

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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; synthetic fur; 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: Chonguino Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Peru
SUBREGION: Jauja
ETHNICITY: Quechua; Aymara
DESCRIPTION: Chonguino or Español (Spaniard) Mask
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Tunantada (Fiesta de San Sebastián y San Fabián)
AGE: ca. 1980s
MAIN MATERIAL: wire mesh
OTHER MATERIALS: hair; oil paint; copper

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 (called chonguinos or españoles). 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.

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TITLE: Archangel Michael
TYPE: mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Bolivia
SUBREGION: Oruro
ETHNICITY: Quechua and Aymara
DESCRIPTION: Archangel Michael Mask
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Carnival (La Diablada)
AGE: 1980s
MAIN MATERIAL: tin sheet
OTHER MATERIALS: polyester fibers; paint

The Diablada (Dance of the Devils) 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 devils dancing in a group led by the Archangel Michael.

This mask represents the angel, made from recycled tin, spray painted and hand finished. While the mask is usually painted flesh-colored, sometimes it is left silver to highlight the inhuman divinity of the angel. The angel character usually wears helmet and carries a sword and shield.

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: Diablesa
TYPE: mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Bolivia
SUBREGION: Oruro
ETHNICITY: Quechua and Aymara
DESCRIPTION: Diablesa Mask
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Carnival (La Diablada)
AGE: Late 1970s
MAIN MATERIAL: tin sheet
OTHER MATERIALS: paint; polyester fibers; foam rubber

The Diablada (Dance of the Devils) 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 devils dancing in a group led by the Archangel Michael.

This mask represents a diablesa (female devil), made from recycled tin, spray painted and hand finished. The costume of the diablesa in Oruro is usually elaborately decorated and somewhat revealing, although the character may be danced by a man or a woman.

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: Señor de Naranja Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Mexico
SUBREGION: Michoacán
ETHNICITY: Purépecha
DESCRIPTION: Señor de Naranja
MAKER: Victoriano Salgado Morales (1920-2012, Uruapan)
CEREMONY: Danza del Señor de Naranja
AGE: 1980
MAIN MATERIAL: wood
OTHER MATERIALS: plaster; tin; maque paint; brass bells; polyester ribbons; steel hardware

The Señor de Naranja (Lord of Naranja) is an historical figure of the country of Zacapu, Michoacán. “Naranja” means orange in Spanish, but the term in this context is actually a corruption of the Purépecha “Naranxan,” the name of a region where the town Naranja de Tapia is now located. The character apparently represents the historical cacique or chief of the region, Ziranzirancámaro, around 1200 CE, and the dance retells the history of the Purépecha settlement of Michoacán.

According to the legend, a tribe of Purépecha people called the “Eagles” arrived in the mountains and demanded that the Señor de Naranja bring them incense and wood to burn on the altar of their fire god, Curicaveri. Over the opposition of his people, the Señor sent the offerings, as well as his sister to wed the leader of the Eagles (Ireticatame) and bear him a son, Sicuirancha, who eventually conquered Naranxan and Cumachen. The dance commemorates these events.

This mask was made by the renowned Victoriano Salgado, who was awarded the Michoacán State Eréndira Prize for the Arts in 2012, the year of his death.

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TITLE: Tío Supay
TYPE: mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Bolivia
SUBREGION: Oruro
ETHNICITY: Quechua and Aymara
DESCRIPTION: Tío Supay Mask
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Carnival
AGE: 1970s
MAIN MATERIAL: tin sheet
OTHER MATERIALS: glitter; dyed plant fiber; oil paint; foam rubber; LED lights and wiring

The Tío Supay (Uncle Supay) is the Incan god of death, whose worship predates the Spanish conquest. Incans and their descendants, the Quechua and Aymara peoples, prayed and made offerings to Supay to propitiate him. In most mines in the Bolivian and Peruvian Altoplano, a figure of Tío Supay would be seated deep in the shaft, and cigars, cigarettes, alcohol, food, and other offerings are left for him to protect the miners.

The Catholic colonizers objected to Supay, viewing the offerings as Devil worship, and so Supay came to be identified with the Christian Satan. His appearance morphed to resemble the Catholic Devil myth, and he plays the role of a demon opposed to the Archangel Michael in the Carnival parades of Oruro. Nonetheless, the worship of Supay continues, and most Aymara people deny any connection between Supay and the Catholic Devil.

This specific mask was made in the 1970s by a caretero (mask maker) in the Calle de los Andes, La Paz for use in the Oruro Carnival. Later, LED lights were added to the eyes with silicon glue in the 2000s to make the mask light up at night.

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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