Includes paper, paper maché, or cardboard.

TITLE: Kanaval Tiger
TYPE: helmet mask
GENERAL REGION: Caribbean
COUNTRY: Haiti
ETHNICITY: Afro-Haitian
DESCRIPTION: Tiger Mask
MAKER: Didier Civile, Jacmel
CEREMONY: Carnival
AGE: late 1990s
MAIN MATERIAL: paper maché
OTHER MATERIALS: oil-based paint; rubber strap; string

In Haiti, the French-speaking descendants of African slaves celebrate Carnival (Kanaval) with parades and parties. Due to the extreme poverty of the great majority of Haitian people, masks and costumes are mostly handmade from recycled or easily available materials. There are stock characters that appear at most celebrations, such as Chaloska and the horned Lanse Kòds, but participants are free to invent their own costumes.  A few expert artisans, such as the one who made this mask, create more professional masks, but even these tend to be made of inexpensive materials, such as paper maché or wire mesh.

For more on Haitian Carnival, see Leah Gordon et al., Kanaval: Vodou, Politics and Revolution on the Streets of Haiti (London: Soul Jazz Pub., 2010).

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TITLE: Dancing Devil of Yare
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Venezuela
SUBREGION: Miranda
ETHNICITY: Mestizo
DESCRIPTION: Diablo Danzante
MAKER: Manuel “El Mocho” Salvador Sanoja, San Francisco de Yare (1937-2010)
CEREMONY: Corpus Christi; other Catholic holidays
AGE: 1980s
MAIN MATERIAL: paper maché
OTHER MATERIALS: paint

The dancing devils of Yare are a fraternal order that dances on Corpus Christi and other holidays. When the tradition of dancing in devil costumes first began in San Francisco de Yare, the masks were monochromatic, made from cloth, and came in many forms.  These may date back to the 18th century.  Over time, the drab cloth masks were replaced with cheaper paper maché, and they began to be painted more colorfully to resemble animals, such as bulls, pigs, dogs, or demons. Before dancing, each devil makes a promise to the Church, but devils never enter the church building itself.  Instead, they hear mass outside the church and receive the Bishop’s blessing without entering.

The Dancing Devils Society is organized in a definite hierarchy, with the number of horns (cachos) representing the rank of the dancer.  Each wears a red suit with a crucifix or image of a saint, with a rosary on the belt, and carries rattles (maracas) or, in the case of the lead devil, one rattle looking like a devil’s head and a whip (látigo).  The First Devil (primer capataz) is the leader and has four horns.  The second and third devils (segundo and tercero capataz) have three horns.  Lesser devils (promeseros) have two horns.  All are male; females can participate, but they cannot wear masks.  Instead, they wear the red suit with a red kerchief on their heads.

This mask was made by the well-known dancer “El Mocho,” known as such for having lost four fingers on his left hand while setting off fireworks as a child.

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TITLE: Saqra Eagle Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Peru
SUBREGION: Paucartambo
ETHNICITY: Quechua; Aymara
DESCRIPTION: Saqra (Devil) Mask of an Eagle
MAKER: Adriel Ordoñez (Cusco, 1994- )
CEREMONY: Danza Saqra (Kuwallada)
AGE: 2018
MAIN MATERIAL: paper maché
OTHER MATERIALS: plaster; paint

The city of Paucartambo, Peru, celebrates the Festival of the Virgin of Carmen (Mamacha Carmen) annually on July 16th. The Festival begins by the carrying of an image of the Virgin Mary through the streets to the church. Among the festivities that follow is the Kuwallada, a festival involving numerous masked characters in elaborate costumes. One component of Kuwallada is the Danza Saqra.  The term saqra is Quechua for “wicked” or “devil” and represents tricksters dressed as animals or devils.  They are not really “evil,” but merely mischievous.

The saqra troupe has a fairly complex organization, with a leader (caporal), two captains (capitánes), a female saqra (china saqra), soldiers, “pets” (mascotas), clowns known as maitas or qhapac qollas, who wear the waq’ollo mask, and the carguyoc, who is an organizer who accompanies (and provides beer for) the musicians.


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

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TITLE: Negrillo (Negrito) Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Peru
SUBREGION: Cusco
ETHNICITY: Quechua; Aymara
DESCRIPTION: Negrillo or Negrito (Little Black Man) Mask
MAKER: Adriel Ordoñez (Cusco, 1994- )
CEREMONY: Danza Negrillos (Fiesta de la Virgen del Carmen)
AGE: 2019
MAIN MATERIAL: paper maché
OTHER MATERIALS: plaster; paint

The city of Paucartambo, Peru, celebrates the Festival of the Virgin of Carmen annually on July 16th. The Festival begins by the carrying of an image of the Virgin Mary through the streets to the church. Among the festivities that follow is the Danza Negrillos a dance involving numerous masked characters in elaborate costumes. The Negrillos, also known as Negritos (little black man), represent the slaves brought to Peru in the early colonial period. They dance in two groups, holding thin ropes to keep the group together, with a caporal (captain) in the middle.  The Negrillos is a relatively recent addition to the Festival, and, like the Qhapac Negro dance, are dressed elaborately, yet represent the slaves who were brought to mine precious metals and pick cotton.


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

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TITLE: Saqra Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Peru
SUBREGION: Paucartambo
ETHNICITY: Quechua; Aymara
DESCRIPTION: Saqra (Devil) Mask
MAKER: Mario Palomino Coll Cárdenas (Cusco, 1949- )
CEREMONY: Danza Saqra (Kuwallada)
AGE: 2018
MAIN MATERIAL: paper maché
OTHER MATERIALS: plaster; paint; metal wire

The city of Paucartambo, Peru, celebrates the Festival of the Virgin of Carmen (Mamacha Carmen) annually on July 16th. The Festival begins by the carrying of an image of the Virgin Mary through the streets to the church. Among the festivities that follow is the Kuwallada, a festival involving numerous masked characters in elaborate costumes. One component of Kuwallada is the Danza Saqra.  The term saqra is Quechua for “wicked” or “devil” and represents tricksters dressed as animals or devils.  They are not really “evil,” but merely mischievous.

The saqra troupe has a fairly complex organization, with a leader (caporal), two captains (capitánes), a female saqra (china saqra), soldiers, “pets” (mascotas), clowns known as maitas or qhapac qollas, who wear the waq’ollo mask, and the carguyoc, who is an organizer who accompanies (and provides beer for) the musicians.


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

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TITLE: Maqta Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Peru
SUBREGION: Cusco
ETHNICITY: Quechua; Aymara
DESCRIPTION: Maqta (Servant) / Cieguito (Half-Blind) Mask
MAKER: Adriel Ordoñez (Cusco, 1994- )
CEREMONY: Corpus Christi; Fiesta de la Virgen del Carmen
AGE: 2019
MAIN MATERIAL: paper maché
OTHER MATERIALS: plaster; paint

The city of Paucartambo, Peru, celebrates the Festival of the Virgin of Carmen (Mamacha Carmen) annually on July 16th. The Festival begins by the carrying of an image of the Virgin Mary through the streets to the church. A wide variety of dances and dance-dramas are performed during this celebration, as well as others such as Corpus Christi and Carnival.  In nearly every dance troupe is found at least one maqta (servant) character. The maqta dresses as an indigenous Quechua man and serves a crucial role in cultural celebrations in the Cusco Region.  In some dance dramas, he is an important character who represents the poor indigenous folk.  In other dances, he is primarily a clown (bufón) who amuses the audience with his antics, harassing other characters and spectators, and playing tricks on other maqtas.

This maqta is has a hilarious wink and is sometimes known as the cieguito, or half-blind one.


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

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TITLE: Majeño Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Peru
SUBREGION: Pisaq, Cusco
ETHNICITY: Quechua; Aymara
DESCRIPTION: Majeño (Merchant) Mask
MAKER: Dionicio Huamán Ayma (Sicuani, 1950- )
CEREMONY: Fiesta de la Virgen del Carmen (Kuwallada Dance)
AGE: 2014
MAIN MATERIAL: paper maché
OTHER MATERIALS: plaster; paint; foam rubber; string

The city of Paucartambo, Peru, celebrates the Festival of the Virgin of Carmen annually on July 16th. The Festival begins by the carrying of an image of the Virgin Mary through the streets to the church. Among the festivities that follow is the Kuwallada, a dance involving numerous masked characters in elaborate costumes. The majeños satirize the Spanish merchants of the Majes Valley who traded in wine and aguardiente (cane liquor). The majeños dance usually in a group of twenty men and one woman, accompanied by a military-type band of brass instruments and drums.  They dance uproariously, carrying about bottles of alcohol, except in the presence of the image of the Virgin. The leading majeño (majeño mayor) is paired with a dancer wearing a female’s mask and dress who carries the liquor for the group, and several maqtas (servant-clowns) accompany the group.

This mask was made in Pisaq and used there during the Fiesta from 2014 to 2019.


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

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TITLE: Huaylaca Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Peru
SUBREGION: Cusco
ETHNICITY: Quechua
DESCRIPTION: Huaylaca Mask
MAKER: Adriel Ordoñez (Cusco, 1994- )
CEREMONY: Carnival; Q’oyoriti; Fiesta de Corpus Christi; Fiesta de la Virgen del Carmen; Fiesta de la Virgen de Natividad
AGE: 2019
MAIN MATERIAL: paper maché
OTHER MATERIALS: plaster; paint; metal mesh

One character common to nearly all festivals in Cusco, Peru is the huaylaca. The huaylaca is a kind of sacred clown.  The Quechua word denotes a woman who does not know how to perform the tasks typically assigned to women in the home, such as cooking, washing clothes, or caring for children. In festival dances, the huaylaca character is always played by a man in drag, sometimes wearing men’s sandals. On their backs, they carry a rag baby, and they sometimes carry a cardboard camera or other accessory.  Their role is to accompany the main dance troupes, flirting with and teasing the spectators, making jokes, helping pedestrians cross through the parade lines, and disciplining rowdy spectators.


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

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TITLE: Waggis Carnival Mask
TYPE: helmet mask
GENERAL REGION: Europe
COUNTRY: Switzerland
SUBREGION: Basel
ETHNICITY: Swiss
DESCRIPTION: Waggis (Alsation) Carnival Helmet Mask
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Fasnacht (Carnival)
AGE: 1980s
MAIN MATERIAL: paper maché
OTHER MATERIALS: paint; plastic hair; wool hat

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).

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TITLE: Chhau Colonist Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Asia
COUNTRY: India
SUBREGION: Purulia, West Bengal
ETHNICITY: Bengali
DESCRIPTION: Mask Representing a Colonist
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Chhau Dance
AGE: ca. 1970s
MAIN MATERIAL: paper maché
OTHER MATERIALS: gesso; paint

Chhau dance is a modern version of a classical Indian dance with tribal origins, originating in the Indian states of Jharkhand, Odisha, and West Bengal. The dance is usually structured around Hindu folk stories exalting the gods Shiva, Devi or Vishnu, and uses both elegant and martial techniques. The Purulia Chhau of West Bengal and the Seraikela Chhau of Jharkhand most commonly use masks to identify the character portrayed.

This specific mask portrays a British colonist. It is not one of the original Chhau characters, and may represent a demonic or clown character for humorous effect.  It most probably originates in Purulia.

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