Includes paper, paper maché, or cardboard.

TITLE: Vejigante Mask and Costume
TYPE: face mask; costume
GENERAL REGION: Caribbean
COUNTRY: Puerto Rico
SUBREGION: Ponce
ETHNICITY: Mestizo
DESCRIPTION: Vejigante Mask and Costume in Puerto Rico Flag Colors
MAKER (Mask): Unknown
MAKER (Costume): Gloria E. Cruz Guevara (Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA / Vieques, Puerto Rico, 1977- )
CEREMONY: Carnival
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.

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TITLE: Halloween Owl Mask and Costume
TYPE: face mask; costume
GENERAL REGION: North America
COUNTRY: United States of America
ETHNICITY: Mixed
DESCRIPTION: Paper Owl Mask and Handmade Costume
MAKER (MASK): The Beistle Co. (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 1900- )
MAKER (COSTUME): Unknown
CEREMONY: Halloween
AGE (MASK): 1930s
AGE (COSTUME): 1920s
MAIN MATERIAL (MASK): card paper
OTHER MATERIALS (MASK): dyed crepe paper; ink; metal staples
MAIN MATERIAL (COSTUME): dyed  and printed cotton cloth
OTHER MATERIALS (COSTUME): stitching; brass bells; steel snaps

Halloween is one of the major secular festivals in the United States, celebrated on October 31st each year.  It originated in pre-Christian times, possibly among the ancient Celts, who practiced Samhain in late fall by wearing frightening costumes and lighting bonfires in mid-autumn to scare away ghosts. In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III declared November 1st as a day to honor all the saints collectively. The celebration prior to this All Saints Day became known as All Hallows’ Eve (hence the shortened name, All Hallowe’en, eventually elided to Halloween), and involved many of the same traditions practiced by the Celts.

Halloween formerly had many traditions that varied by region.  In modern and relatively homogenized practice, Halloween generally has three main components: costumed parties, “trick-or-treating,” and haunted houses.  Costumed parties are the modern descendant of social activities designed to honor the saints and create solidarity in the community. Children’s parties typically involved games with prizes, such as bobbing for apples and carving pumpkins and other relatively dry squash into frightening “jack-o-lanterns” with candles inside for illumination.  Adult parties commonly involve less innocent games and elaborate decorations to create a scary mood.

Trick-or-treating is the children’s practice of wearing scary costumes to extort candy and other sweets from neighbors. Like roaming goblins, the monsters visiting the house would demand a treat or threaten to play a nasty trick on the neighbor. The threat is of course a formality, as sharing candy with trick-or-treaters is considered a mandatory practice for friendly and community-spirited neighbors. In modern practice, many children have abandoned the tradition of wearing frightening costumes and have leaned toward fantasy characters such as superheroes, princesses, and fairies.

Haunted houses are a relatively modern innovation.  They may be designed and staffed by volunteers or for profit, and generally take the form of a decrepit mansion haunted by ghosts, mad scientists, monsters, the walking dead, etc. The idea is to inspire terror and wonder in a factually safe environment.

In addition, many Americans celebrate by watching horror movies (the release of which Hollywood times to coincide with the Halloween season), and in some regions, most notably Greenwich Village, Manhattan in New York and Salem, Massachusetts, major costumed parades are organized each year.  In many cities, “zombie walks” composed of masses of costumed zombies have been organized as well.

Popular masks and costumes include devils, zombies, skeletons, vampires, werewolves, mummies, witches, pirates, political figures, and characters from popular culture, such as Frankenstein’s monster. However, Halloween costumes can include almost anything, including inanimate objects and abstractions.  The choice is limited only by the imagination of the masquerader.  Masks and costumes depicting offensive racial stereotypes, popular prior to the 1980s, are no longer widely used.

This specific mask was mass produced by cutting the shape from card paper and printing the design on it, then stapling a headband made of foldable crepe paper made by a process invented in Germany. Such mass-produced masks were inexpensive enough to be used by all Halloween celebrants regardless of social position and wealth. Because they were made to be disposable, few survive in their original condition. The costume was hand-sewn in the 1920s from dyed and printed cloth. It was made for a small child, approximately four to five years old. The seamstress sewed small brass bells on the arms and legs to make light noise whenever the wearer moved, an innovation not only festive but helpful in finding the child in the dark while trick-or-treating.

For more on 20th century American Halloween costumes, see Phyllis Galembo, Dressed for Thrills: 100 Years of Halloween Costumes and Masquerade (New York: Harry N. Abrams Inc., 2002).

Click above to watch a documentary about Halloween in the United States.

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TITLE: Halloween Black Cat
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: North America
COUNTRY: United States of America
ETHNICITY: Mixed
DESCRIPTION: Paper Black Cat Mask
MAKER: The Beistle Co. (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 1900- )
CEREMONY: Halloween
AGE: 1938
MAIN MATERIAL: card paper
OTHER MATERIALS: dyed crepe paper; ink; metal staples

Halloween is one of the major secular festivals in the United States, celebrated on October 31st each year.  It originated in pre-Christian times, possibly among the ancient Celts, who practiced Samhain in late fall by wearing frightening costumes and lighting bonfires in mid-autumn to scare away ghosts. In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III declared November 1st as a day to honor all the saints collectively. The celebration prior to this All Saints Day became known as All Hallows’ Eve (hence the shortened name, All Hallowe’en, eventually elided to Halloween), and involved many of the same traditions practiced by the Celts.

Halloween formerly had many traditions that varied by region.  In modern and relatively homogenized practice, Halloween generally has three main components: costumed parties, “trick-or-treating,” and haunted houses.  Costumed parties are the modern descendant of social activities designed to honor the saints and create solidarity in the community. Children’s parties typically involved games with prizes, such as bobbing for apples and carving pumpkins and other relatively dry squash into frightening “jack-o-lanterns” with candles inside for illumination.  Adult parties commonly involve less innocent games and elaborate decorations to create a scary mood.

Trick-or-treating is the children’s practice of wearing scary costumes to extort candy and other sweets from neighbors. Like roaming goblins, the monsters visiting the house would demand a treat or threaten to play a nasty trick on the neighbor. The threat is of course a formality, as sharing candy with trick-or-treaters is considered a mandatory practice for friendly and community-spirited neighbors. In modern practice, many children have abandoned the tradition of wearing frightening costumes and have leaned toward fantasy characters such as superheroes, princesses, and fairies.

Haunted houses are a relatively modern innovation.  They may be designed and staffed by volunteers or for profit, and generally take the form of a decrepit mansion haunted by ghosts, mad scientists, monsters, the walking dead, etc. The idea is to inspire terror and wonder in a factually safe environment.

In addition, many Americans celebrate by watching horror movies (the release of which Hollywood times to coincide with the Halloween season), and in some regions, most notably Greenwich Village, Manhattan in New York and Salem, Massachusetts, major costumed parades are organized each year.  In many cities, “zombie walks” composed of masses of costumed zombies have been organized as well.

Popular masks and costumes include devils, zombies, skeletons, vampires, werewolves, mummies, witches, pirates, political figures, and characters from popular culture, such as Frankenstein’s monster. However, Halloween costumes can include almost anything, including inanimate objects and abstractions.  The choice is limited only by the imagination of the masquerader.  Masks and costumes depicting offensive racial stereotypes, popular prior to the 1980s, are no longer widely used.

This specific mask was mass produced by cutting the shape from card paper and printing the design on it, then stapling a headband made of foldable crepe paper made by a process invented in Germany. Such mass-produced masks were inexpensive enough to be used by all Halloween celebrants regardless of social position and wealth. Because they were made to be disposable, few survive in their original condition.

For more on 20th century American Halloween costumes, see Phyllis Galembo, Dressed for Thrills: 100 Years of Halloween Costumes and Masquerade (New York: Harry N. Abrams Inc., 2002).

Click above to watch a documentary about Halloween in the United States.

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TITLE: Chwibari Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Asia
COUNTRY: Korea
SUBREGION: Hwanghae Province
ETHNICITY: Korean
DESCRIPTION: Bongsan Talchum Chwibari (Drunkard) Mask
MAKER: Unknown maker at Seoul Institute for the Arts
CEREMONY: Talchum Drama
FUNCTION: celebration; entertainment
AGE: 2005
MAIN MATERIAL: paper maché
OTHER MATERIALS: cotton hood; stitching; paint

Talchum has been called Korea’s first “professional” masked dance drama, although it originated as part of seasonal festivities in the Bongsan region, it later relocated to Sariwon, on a major trade route, and during the Japanese Colonial Era was performed in a theater for paying patrons. The drama is accompanied by music played on a small samheyon yukgak ensemble, consisting of three aerophones, one chordophone, and two membranophones.

This mask represents a drunkard (chwibari) who performs the kaekki chum dance. In the Fourth Act of the drama, a very holy monk abandons his doctrines and seduces a shaman girl. Later, a drunkard appears and, challenging the monk, wins the girl for himself.  After she bears his baby, she abandons him, and chwibari undertakes to educate his child himself.

For more on Korean masquerade, see Jeon Kyung-wook, Korean Mask Dance Dramas: Their History and Structural Principles (Gyeonggi-do, Rep. of Korea: Youlhwadang Pub. 2005).

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TITLE: Eight Heavenly Maidens Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Asia
COUNTRY: Korea
SUBREGION: Korean expatriates in China
ETHNICITY: Korean
DESCRIPTION: Eight Heavenly Maidens Mask
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Kuunmong Drama
FUNCTION: entertainment
AGE: 1980s
MAIN MATERIAL: paper maché
OTHER MATERIALS: paint; stitching; cotton cloth; dyed cotton cords; elastic band; hardware

This mask was probably made by Korean expatriates living in China for use in a performance of the Kuunmong drama.  Kuunmong, or “The Cloud Dream of the Nine,” is a 17th century Korean novel set in China during the Tang Dynasty (618-907 CE). Although probably originally written in Chinese, it was early translated into Korean and is considered one of the main masterpieces of Korean literature.  Kuunmong tells the story of two young men who live strict Buddhist and Confucian lives, respectively.  The Confucian hero, So-yoo, marries or takes as concubines eight beautiful maidens, of which this mask probably represents one.  The mask is thus not made for a traditional cultural ceremony of Korea, but rather as a form of entertainment and cultural education.

For more on Korean masquerade, see Jeon Kyung-wook, Korean Mask Dance Dramas: Their History and Structural Principles (Gyeonggi-do, Rep. of Korea: Youlhwadang Pub. 2005).

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TITLE: Basler Carnival Half Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Europe
COUNTRY: Switzerland
SUBREGION: Basel
ETHNICITY: Swiss
DESCRIPTION: Carnival Half-Mask for Fife Player
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Fasnacht (Carnival)
AGE: 1990s
MAIN MATERIAL: paper maché
OTHER MATERIALS: paint; elastic band; hardware; dyed cotton cap

Fasnacht is what the Tyrolean Swiss call Carnival.  In many towns in Austria, southern Germany, Switzerland, and northern Italy, local folk don elaborate masks and costumes to parade through the town.  Different towns have variations on the parade, such as the Schemenlaufen of Imst, the Schellerlaufen of Nassereith, and the Muller and Matschgerer of Innsbruck, Austria.

In Basel, Switzerland, masks are almost all made of paper maché and take a helmet form. Armies of costumed clowns, musicians, and dancers, called cliques, parade around town in uniform mask styles for 72 nearly continuous hours on the Monday following Ash Wednesday. The paraders must wear their Larven (masks) throughout the parade and are expected never to remove the mask in order to identify themselves.  They throw confetti at crowd members with such proliferation that it blankets the streets.

Although there is a great deal of innovation and creativity in mask styles, there are certain styles that tend to reappear annually. This mask, known as Waggis, represents a big-nosed, frizzy-haired clown, who wears wooden clogs, a blue shirt, and a red neckerchief. He is a prankster who parodies the Alsatian farmers who formerly came to Basel market days to sell their produce (Waggis literally means a person from Alsace in Basel dialect). Other common characters include the Alti Dante (old aunt), Dummbeeter (trumpetist) and Pierrot (a sad clown from the late Italian Commedia dell’Arte, known for his white and black makeup).

This specific mask was made for and used by a fife player in one of the roaming bands. Half masks are common among wind instrument musicians who need to access their instruments with their mouths.

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TITLE: Mangkornkanth Khon Mask
TYPE: helmet mask
GENERAL REGION: Asia
COUNTRY: Thailand
SUBREGION: Bangkok
ETHNICITY: Thai
DESCRIPTION: Mangkornkanth Demon Khon
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Ramakien Dance Drama
AGE: ca. 1970s
MAIN MATERIAL: paper maché
OTHER MATERIALS: plaster; gilding; rhinestones; paint; wooden fangs

The Ramakien is the Thai adaptation of the traditional Hindu epic from India, the Ramayana.  Most male characters in the drama wear masks fashioned from paper maché and elaborately gilded, decorated, and painted.

This mask represents the minor demon king Mangkornkanth, the second king of Romkan and a minion of the demon king Totsakan.

For more on Thai khon masks, see Natthapatra Chandavij & Promporn Pramualratana, Thai Puppets and Khon Masks (Bangkok: River Books, 1998).

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TITLE: Perro Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Panama
SUBREGION: Azuero Peninsula
ETHNICITY: Afro-Latino
DESCRIPTION: Perro (Dog) Mask
MAKER: José del Carmen González Santana (Chitré, 1959- )
CEREMONY: Danza de los Diablicos Sucios (Corpus Christi)
FUNCTION: celebration; entertainment
AGE: 2019
MAIN MATERIAL: paper maché
OTHER MATERIALS: wood teeth; airbrush paint; plastic eyes; cotton shoelaces

In the Azuero Peninsula and other parts of Panama, villagers perform several group dances before and during the celebration of Corpus Christi.  The best known of these is the dance of the Diablicos Sucios (dirty little devils), men and boys dressed in striped costumes, wearing large, paper maché masks with bright headdresses of macaw feathers attached to a leather cone strapped to the back of the head.  Other dances popular on Corpus Christi in the peninsula include the Diablicos Limpios (clean little devils), who wear flowers instead of feathers and dance with a waistband of colorful handkerchiefs to an orchestra of flute, accordion and triangle, and Diablicos Espejos (little devils with mirrors).

This mask is used in the Danza del Venado (Dance of the Deer), an old dance that has recently been revived in Azuero. It tells the story of a hunter with his two dogs that try (and fail) to catch a deer. Firecrackers may be used to simulate the sounds of a rifle. This mask was danced by Hector Quintero in the 2019 Corpus Christi celebration of Chitré.

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TITLE: Diablico Sucio Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Panama
SUBREGION: Azuero Peninsula
ETHNICITY: Afro-Latino
DESCRIPTION: Traditional Diablico Sucio Mask
MAKER: Dario López (Parita, 1950- )
CEREMONY: Danza de los Diablicos Sucios (Corpus Christi)
FUNCTION: celebration; entertainment
AGE: 1976
MAIN MATERIAL: paper maché
OTHER MATERIALS: oil-based paint; feather rachises; adhesive; cotton shoelaces

In the Azuero Peninsula and other parts of Panama, villagers perform several group dances before and during the celebration of Corpus Christi.  The best known of these is the dance of the Diablicos Sucios (dirty little devils), men and boys dressed in striped costumes, wearing large, paper maché masks with bright headdresses of macaw feathers attached to a leather cone strapped to the back of the head. The costume is traditionally colored red and black, made from alternating stripes of achiote (annatto) and charcoal. The devils dance to the music of a guitar and they always carry castanets, a dried cow bladder, and a whip for striking the bladder (and fending off drunken revelers who might interfere with the dance). Generally, the dance first takes place in the street, from the church around the plaza, after which the dancers might appear in specific homes at the request of the resident for a private dance in exchange for food or money.  The dancers sometimes chew on ginger to cleanse their bodies, but the appellation “dirty” comes from the foul smell of the cow bladder and the sweat from prolonged dancing in the tropical summer sun.

Other dances popular on Corpus Christi in the peninsula include the Diablicos Limpios (clean little devils), who wear flowers instead of feathers and dance with a waistband of colorful handkerchiefs to an orchestra of flute, accordion and triangle, and Diablicos Espejos (little devils with mirrors).

Modern masks tend to have a sculptured look; traditional masks like this one had a more abstract and stylized appearance.


Click above to watch a short documentary film about the diablicos sucios of Panama.

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TITLE: Diablico Sucio Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Panama
SUBREGION: Azuero Peninsula
ETHNICITY: Afro-Latino
DESCRIPTION: Green Iguana Diablico Sucio Mask
MAKER: José del Carmen González Santana (Chitré, 1959- )
CEREMONY: Danza de los Diablicos Sucios (Corpus Christi)
FUNCTION: celebration; entertainment
AGE: 2019
MAIN MATERIAL: paper maché
OTHER MATERIALS: wood spines; airbrush paint; cotton shoelaces

In the Azuero Peninsula and other parts of Panama, villagers perform several group dances before and during the celebration of Corpus Christi.  The best known of these is the dance of the Diablicos Sucios (dirty little devils), men and boys dressed in striped costumes, wearing large, paper maché masks with bright headdresses of macaw feathers attached to a leather cone strapped to the back of the head. The costume is traditionally colored red and black, made from alternating stripes of achiote (annatto) and charcoal. The devils dance to the music of a guitar and they always carry castanets, a dried cow bladder, and a whip for striking the bladder (and fending off drunken revelers who might interfere with the dance). Generally, the dance first takes place in the street, from the church around the plaza, after which the dancers might appear in specific homes at the request of the resident for a private dance in exchange for food or money.  The dancers sometimes chew on ginger to cleanse their bodies, but the appellation “dirty” comes from the foul smell of the cow bladder and the sweat from prolonged dancing in the tropical summer sun.

Other dances popular on Corpus Christi in the peninsula include the Diablicos Limpios (clean little devils), who wear flowers instead of feathers and dance with a waistband of colorful handkerchiefs to an orchestra of flute, accordion and triangle, and Diablicos Espejos (little devils with mirrors).

This specific mask represents the locally common green iguana and was danced by Hector Quintero in the 2019 Corpus Christi celebration of Chitré.


Click above to watch a short documentary film about the diablicos sucios of Panama.

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