Material other than the one listed

TITLE: Negrita
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Bolivia
SUBREGION: Oruro
ETHNICITY: Quechua and Aymara
DESCRIPTION: Negrita (Little Black Woman) Mask
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Carnival (La Negrada)
AGE: 1950s
MAIN MATERIAL: linen; plaster
OTHER MATERIALS: paint; mirrors; string; vegetable fiber; cotton cloth

The negrita is the less common of the two kinds of dark-skinned characters in the Carnival of Oruro, Bolivia. Unlike the china morena, who represent the Moorish invaders of Spain, the negrita represents the progeny of African slaves brought to Bolivia to work the mines and farms. Their costume is colorful and highly embellished, and they tend to wear fancy European-type dress instead of the highly decorated traditional Bolivian costume of the china morena. Their dance, like the Morenada, is accompanied by male counterparts.

This specific mask was fashioned by a skilled mask-maker (caretero) in Oruro in the 1950s. At this time, mask makers were still frequently using linen soaked in plaster for their masks and hand painting them from start to finish.

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 Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Peru
SUBREGION: Cuzco
ETHNICITY: Quechua and Aymara
DESCRIPTION: Diablo (Devil) Helmet Mask
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Carnival
AGE: ca. 1980s
MAIN MATERIAL: paper maché; plaster
OTHER MATERIALS: wire mesh; paint

Carnival is the Catholic festival that precedes the fasting season of Lent, a period known as Shrovetide. In Peru, Carnival celebrations typically include parades of masked and costumed characters, marching or dancing to music, and street celebrations, often accompanied by water battles. Costumes portray a mix of Christian and indigenous themes with an emphasis on parody and parable. Common characters include devils, Spaniards, Moors, and angels.

While most modern Peruvian masks are made from tin, or increasingly fiberglass or plastic, this mask is made in the older style of paper maché coated with plaster.


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

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TITLE: Silvesterklaus
TYPE: mask
GENERAL REGION: Europe
COUNTRY: Switzerland
SUBREGION: Appenzell Ausserrhoden
ETHNICITY: Swiss
DESCRIPTION: Schöne Silvesterklaus Mask
MAKER: Verena Steiger, Urnäsch
CEREMONY: St. Sylvester’s Day (New Year’s Eve)
AGE: 1990
MAIN MATERIAL: cloth; wax
OTHER MATERIALS: paint; metal o-rings

On New Year’s Eve on both the Gregorian (December 31) and Julian (January 13) calendars, Appenzell Canton, Switzerland, sees yodeling mummers pass through the town wearing masks and elaborate costumes in honor of Saint Sylvester. The costume includes large bells and a headdress, although the appearance of the mummers varies. There are three types of Chlausen: schöne (pretty), schö-wüeschte (pretty-ugly), and wüeschte (ugly). This mask represents a schöne, and would be worn with an elaborate headdress with scenes of peasant life and a traditional Appenzeller costume. The ugly masks are skillfully made to look frightening, and the mask and costume are both composed of fir branches and needles, ivy, moss, or other natural materials. Pretty-ugly characters have the schöne mask like this one, but the natural costume of a wüeschte.

For more on traditional Tyrolean folk masks, see Claus Hansmann, Masken Schemen Larven: Volksmasken der Aplenländer (Munich: Verlag F. Bruckmann, 1959).

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TITLE: Moreno
TYPE: mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Bolivia
SUBREGION: Oruro
ETHNICITY: Quechua and Aymara
DESCRIPTION: Moreno (Moor) Helmet Mask
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Carnival (La Morenada)
AGE: 1960s
MAIN MATERIAL: linen; plaster
OTHER MATERIALS: glass eyes; dyed plant fibers; 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 male moreno, or Moor, made in the 1960s from linen covered in plaster.  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).

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: Tsam Damdinchoijoo
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Asia
COUNTRY: Mongolia
ETHNICITY: Mongol
DESCRIPTION: Damdinchoijoo (Yama) Mask
MAKER: Gankhuyag (GanNa) Natsag (Ulaanbaatar, 1961- )
CEREMONY: Ikh Khuree Tsam Dance
AGE: ca. 1980s
MAIN MATERIAL: paper maché
OTHER MATERIALS: plaster; paint; cloth; cotton wadding; tempera paint; lacquer

The Hindu-Buddhist Tsam dance crossed the Himalayas from India in the late medieval age and became a popular ritual in northern India and throughout Nepal, Bhutan, and Tibet.  From Tibet, it reached Mongolia in the early nineteenth century and was soon adopted by Buddhist monasteries there.  The dance is performed on major religious holidays to invoke protective spirits and purify the region of evil influences.

This mask represents Damdinchoijoo, also known as Yama, the god of death, who judges whether the dead descend to the underworld to rise to paradise. In Hindu-Buddhist mythology, he is the son of Kali, the Hindu goddess of death. In the Tsam dance, he holds a magical weapon resembling a skeleton and a bowl made from a human skull.

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TITLE: Hawaiian Makini
TYPE: face mask and accessory
GENERAL REGION: Oceania
COUNTRY: Hawaiian Kingdom (presently in the United States of America)
SUBREGION: Hawaiian Islands
ETHNICITY: Polynesian (Hawaiian)
DESCRIPTION: Makini Helmet Mask and Gourd Rattle
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Makahiki
FUNCTION: Agriculture
AGE: late 20th century
MAIN MATERIAL: gourd
OTHER MATERIALS: raffia fiber; rooster feathers

Before the conquest of the Hawaiian Islands, members of the priestly caste wore helmets like this one to honor the god Lono, who conferred fertility on the land, and at the Makahiki harvest festival. It may also have been worn by the Warrior Society that protected the chief. This mask is a reproduction; the original masks would have had a crest made of sedge leaves and the strips at the bottom would have been made of tapa (cloth made from the pounded bark of trees).

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TITLE: Pee Ta Khon
TYPE: mask
GENERAL REGION: Asia
COUNTRY: Thailand
SUBREGION: Dan Sai
ETHNICITY: Thai
DESCRIPTION: Pee Ta Khon (Ghost) Mask
MAKER: Teerawat “Aob” Chueaboonmee, Dan Sai
CEREMONY: Pee Ta Khon (Ghost Festival)
AGE: 2010
MAIN MATERIAL: palm spathe
OTHER MATERIALS: oil paint; wood; sawdust paste; rattan; dyed polyester fabric; polyethylene rope; tin bells

The Pee Ta Khon, also spelled Phi Ta Khon, is an annual ceremony held solely in Dan Sai, Thailand, over a three-day period between March and July. The precise date of the festival is determined by the town’s spiritual mediums. It is part of a larger Buddhist celebration known as Bun Luang or Bun Phawet, intended to earn spiritual merit for its participants.

On wan ruam (assembly day), the ghosts congregate and invite protection from the spirit of the Mun River on which Dan Sai sits. The ghosts then hold a series of games and a procession, symbolizing the festivities that followed the return of the Buddha after a long absence during which he was presumed dead.

In addition to the elaborate masks, which mingle the ferocious with the comedic, the ghosts where patchwork costumes, belts with bells, and carry a palad khik (giant wooden phallus), which they wave at females in the audience in token of fertility.

This specific mask and costume were used for three years in Pee Ta Khon celebrations in Dan Sai, from 2010 to 2013.

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TITLE: Asmat Bi Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Oceania
COUNTRY: Indonesia
SUBREGION: Papua Province
ETHNICITY: Melanesian (Asmat)
DESCRIPTION: Bi (Orphan) Mask
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Feast
FUNCTION: funeral; spirit invocation
AGE: ca. 1980s
MAIN MATERIAL: wicker
OTHER MATERIALS: rattan; sago leaf fiber; natural pigments

The Asmat people are a Melanesian ethnic group inhabiting the Papua Province of Indonesia, along the southwestern coast. They are thought to number around 70,000 individuals.  The Asmat celebrate a periodic feast, a series of rituals culminating when dead ancestors, personified by performers wearing full-length body masks like this one (Det), return to visit the village.

The rites involve two types of masks. The first is this one, a single conical mask depicting a legendary orphan (Bi), appears to entertain the audience with comical antics. The second type of mask, the Det, portrays the dead ancestor. At the climax of the ceremony, the masked performers representing the dead emerge from the forest and tour the village, where they are offered food and hospitality. They eventually arrive in front of the men’s ceremonial house, where the dead and the living join in a dance, which continues long into the night. The following morning the dead, now properly fed and entertained or frightened by threats of violence, return to the realm of their ancestors (Safan).

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TITLE: Diablo Cojuelo Mask and Costume
TYPE: face mask; costume; accessory
GENERAL REGION: Caribbean
COUNTRY: Dominican Republic
SUBREGION: La Vega
ETHNICITY: Afro-Latino
DESCRIPTION: Diablo Cojuelo Carnival Mask and Costume
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Carnival; Dominican Independence Day
AGE: 2013
MAIN MATERIAL: fiberglass
OTHER MATERIALS: gesso; paint; synthetic hair; metal accessories; glue; glitter; wire mesh; foam rubber padding; elastic straps; plastic rhinestones; plastic ornaments

During the carnival of the Dominican Republic, which actually falls on the Dominican Independence Day rather than the Catholic Mardi Gras, paraders don elaborate masks and costumes to represent devils, monsters, clowns, and other characters.  Different towns have different traditional masks.  In La Vega, a very large parade involving hundreds of masked marchers takes place every year, prominently featuring characters known as the diablo cojuelo, or “tormenting devil.”  These devils carry inflated bladders on a rope (formerly goat bladders, but today mostly rubber) that they use to strike audience members, preferably young women, on the buttocks.  The ritual thereby serves the dual function of providing a release for young male testosterone and reminding the audience of the torments awaiting in Hell.

Traditionally, such masks were made of paper maché, but in modern times they have been increasingly made of fiberglass molded around a sculpted model.  This allows crews of paraders to wear similar masks as a group without the need sculpt each mask individually.  Even so, tremendous work goes into the molding, preparation, painting, and adornment of each mask. Frequently the costumes require months of hand-stitching as well.

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TITLE: Viejo Mask
TYPE: mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Mexico
SUBREGION: Mexico State
ETHNICITY: Nahua
DESCRIPTION: Viejo (Old Man) Mask
MAKER: Unknown maker (possibly Delfino Castillo Alonso) in Santa María Astahuacán
CEREMONY: Carnival
AGE: early 1980s
MAIN MATERIAL: wax
OTHER MATERIALS: dyed cloth; synthetic hair; yarn; thread; paint

In a few villages in Estado de México (Mexico State), Carnival masqueraders wear masks representing viejos (distinguished old men) or charros (country gentlemen) made of wax formed over a plastic mold, meticulously painted, and threaded with decorated facial hair. They typically wear elaborately decorated suits and sombreros resembling the mariachi outfit, and dance with (unmasked) ladies wearing their finest dresses and hats to traditional music of guitars, trumpets, and drums.

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