Includes paper, paper maché, or cardboard.

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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TITLE: Dominican Carnival Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Caribbean
COUNTRY: Dominican Republic
SUBREGION: Santiago
ETHNICITY: Afro-Latino
DESCRIPTION: Lechón
MAKER: Unknown maker in Santiago de los Caballeros
CEREMONY: Carnival
AGE: 1970s-1980s
MAIN MATERIAL: paper maché
OTHER MATERIALS: gesso; paint

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 Santiago de los Caballeros, a very large parade involving hundreds of masked marchers takes place every year, prominently featuring characters known as the lechón, or “piglet.”  Notwithstanding their name, they nearly always look like a cross between a duck and a bull. The lechón is one of two traditional masks, the other being the pepín, which looks similar but with horns covered in spikes. Modern pepín masks often substitute elaborate collections of fruit, flowers, geometric shapes, or other creative decorations on the horns.

These diabolical creatures carry rope whips and 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 like this one, 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: Lhakarpo Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Asia
COUNTRY: Bhutan
SUBREGION: Western Bhutan
ETHNICITY: Ngalop
DESCRIPTION: Lhakarpo Mask
MAKER: Dwha Tshering, Thimpu
CEREMONY: Cham Dance
FUNCTION: Celebration; Entertainment; Social Control
AGE: 1970s
MAIN MATERIAL: paper maché
OTHER MATERIALS: plaster; paint

The Ngalop people inhabit western and central Bhutan and are originally of Tibetan origin. The ethnic group includes an estimated 710,000 persons.  The Ngalop are primarily Tibetan Buddhist, and their masks are typically worn at monastery celebrations known as Cham Dances to bless the sowing of the grain, pray for a bountiful harvest, and entertain the public.  This mask, representing the god Lhakarpo, who accompanies the god Choekyi Gyab (also known as Yama), the Lord of Death. Lhakarpo, who lived among men, assists Choekyi Gyab in judging the souls of the dead according to their good and evil deeds to determine how they will be reincarnated. Lhakarpo is considered the incarnation of good and advocate for mankind’s virtues. Along with his demonic counterpart, Due Nagpo (or Dey Nakchuag), he dances during and acts out morality plays for the education of the audience in Buddhist theology in the Raksha Mangcham, the Dance of the Judgment of the Dead.

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TITLE: Vellarón Mask & Costume
TYPE: helmet mask; costume; accessory
GENERAL REGION: Europe
COUNTRY: Spain
SUBREGION: Galicia
ETHNICITY: Iberian
DESCRIPTION: Vellarón (Old Man) Mask and Costume with Zamarra (Whip)
MAKER (MASK): Adelino Martínez (Riós, 1964- )
MAKER (COSTUME): Jaime Pérez Rodríguez (Riós, d.o.b. unknown)
CEREMONY: Entroido (Carnival)
AGE: 2010
MAIN MATERIAL (MASK): cardboard
OTHER MATERIALS (MASK): paper maché; paper; metal wire; synthetic ribbons; polyester beard; adhesive; paint
COSTUME MATERIALS: polyester cloth and ribbons; leather belt; brass bells; brass hardware; synthetic leather leggings
ACCESSORY MATERIALS: wood; paint; leather straps; cotton wadding; burlap; metal hardware

The Entroido (Carnival) of Spain’s Galicia province has a tremendous diversity of celebration styles that vary from town to town. In the region of Riós, the celebration begins with a parade of brightly dressed vellaróns, who travel around towns such as Castrelo de Cima and neighboring villages, requesting food or money for the Carnival feast. They may accompany other characters, such as A Madama, an elegant lady, O Farrangón, a man in old rags, or even costumed dogs.

The vellarón mask and costume are ancient in origin, but they were lost around 1977, only to be recovered in 2007 and restored to use. In the Galician dialect, a vellarón is an old man, as the mask and costume suggest.

This mask and costume were graciously donated to the Museum by the Township of Riós in 2018.

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TITLE: Pantalla
TYPE: helmet mask
GENERAL REGION: Europe
COUNTRY: Spain
SUBREGION: Galicia
ETHNICITY: Iberian
DESCRIPTION: Pantalla (Screen) Mask
MAKER: Juan Antioquia (Xinzo de Limia, 1964- )
CEREMONY: Entroido (Carnival)
AGE: 2015
MAIN MATERIAL: paper maché
OTHER MATERIALS: cardboard; felt; foam rubber; acrylic paint; polyester cloth; synthetic fringe; stitching

The Entroido (Carnival) of Spain’s Galicia province has a tremendous diversity of celebration styles that vary from town to town. In Xinzo de Limia, the main Carnival character is the Pantalla (Screen), which refers to the painted screens atop the helmet masks they wear. These screens are decorated with astral motifs or totemic animals. The Pantalla wears a costume consisting of a white shirt, black pants, a red or black cape, a red scarf, and black shoes, with a red belt holding cowbells. The Pantalla also carries two or more inflated, dried cattle bladders attached to strings, which the Pantalla uses to bang together while jumping and grunting to scare strangers and women.

The Pantalla‘s role is to ensure that nobody walks into the town square or surrounding streets without a disguise. Anyone without a disguise is forced to buy the Pantallas a round of wine, if necessary by abduction to the nearest bar.

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TITLE: Pantalla
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Europe
COUNTRY: Spain
SUBREGION: Galicia
ETHNICITY: Iberian
DESCRIPTION: Pantalla (Screen) Mask
MAKER: Celso Lorenzo Otero (Xinzo de Limia, 1956- )
CEREMONY: Entroido (Carnival)
AGE: 2014
MAIN MATERIAL: paper maché
OTHER MATERIALS: cardboard; felt; foam rubber; acrylic paint; polyester cloth; synthetic fringe; stitching

The Entroido (Carnival) of Spain’s Galicia province has a tremendous diversity of celebration styles that vary from town to town. In Xinzo de Limia, the main Carnival character is the Pantalla (Screen), which refers to the painted screens atop the helmet masks they wear. These screens are decorated with astral motifs or totemic animals. The Pantalla wears a costume consisting of a white shirt, black pants, a red or black cape, a red scarf, and black shoes, with a red belt holding cowbells. The Pantalla also carries two or more inflated, dried cattle bladders attached to strings, which the Pantalla uses to bang together while jumping and grunting to scare strangers and women.

The Pantalla‘s role is to ensure that nobody walks into the town square or surrounding streets without a disguise. Anyone without a disguise is forced to buy the Pantallas a round of wine, if necessary by abduction to the nearest bar.

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TITLE: Cora Tiznado Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Mexico
SUBREGION: Nayarit
ETHNICITY: Cora
DESCRIPTION: Tiznado (Judio) Mask
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Semana Santa (Holy Week)
AGE: ca. 1950s
MAIN MATERIAL: paper maché
OTHER MATERIALS: bamboo; paint; animal hair

The Cora people of Nayarit resisted Spanish colonization and proselytization long after most of Mexico succumbed, and their pre-Christian traditions still survive with a thin veneer of Catholicism. Traditionally, the Cora worship three gods, associated with the sun, the moon, and corn.

During the Semana Santa (Holy Week), Cora men paint their bodies with black and white stripes and wear judio (Jew) masks (also called borrados) designed to look like monsters and devils that carry swords and persecute the sun god, who takes the Catholic form of Jesus of Nazareth. The character is called tiznado (“covered with ash”). On Good Friday, the judios capture and kill the sun god, who is resurrected the next day and banishes the judios.

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TITLE: Pepino
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Bolivia
SUBREGION: La Paz
ETHNICITY: Aymara; Quechua
DESCRIPTION: Pepino (Clown) Mask
MAKER: Unknown maker in La Paz
CEREMONY: Danza de Ch’utas y Pepinos (Carnival)
AGE: ca. 2010
MAIN MATERIAL: cardboard; plaster
OTHER MATERIALS: cotton cloth; synthetic cloth; paint; mirrors; glitter; beads; tinsel

The clown Pepino is one of the key characters of the Carnival of La Paz, along with the ch’uta and cholita characters. Pepino is a good-natured trickster, spanking the young ladies with a long stocking filled with sand called chorizo (sausage) and suddenly spraying foam on spectators. Although his name literally means “Cucumber,” it is believed he developed from a famous Uruguayan clown, Pepe Podestá (Pepino also means “little Pepe”), combined with the Spanish harlequin character popular in early Republican Carnivals. At the conclusion of the festivities, the Pepino costume is carried to cemetery of La Paz where he is buried, while the cholitas and ch’utas dress in black and feign tears.

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