Includes paper, paper maché, or cardboard.

TITLE: Kanaval Tiger
TYPE: helmet mask
GENERAL REGION: Caribbean
COUNTRY: Haiti
ETHNICITY: Afro-Haitian
DESCRIPTION: Tiger Mask
CATALOG ID: CAHT001
MAKER: Didier Civile (Jacmel, 1973- )
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
CATALOG ID: LAVE002
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
CATALOG ID: LAPE023
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
CATALOG ID: LAPE008
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
CATALOG ID: LAPE004
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
CATALOG ID: LAPE028
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
CATALOG ID: LAPE005
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: Chhau Colonist Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Asia
COUNTRY: India
SUBREGION: Purulia, West Bengal
ETHNICITY: Bengali
DESCRIPTION: Chhau Mask Representing a Colonist
CATALOG ID: ASIN001
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 and is small enough that it may have been intended for a child.

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TITLE: Lechón Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Caribbean
COUNTRY: Dominican Republic
SUBREGION: Santiago
ETHNICITY: Afro-Latino
DESCRIPTION: Pepinera-type Lechón Carnival Mask
CATALOG ID: CADO005
MAKER: Manuel de Jesús Jiménez (Santiago, 1954- ) & Giovanni de Jesús Jiménez Santos (Santiago, 1979-)
CEREMONY: Carnival; Dominican Independence Day
AGE: 2023
MAIN MATERIAL: paper maché
OTHER MATERIALS: yucca sap; paint; foam rubber; elastic straps

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 comes in various forms. The traditional mask is the pepinera, with smooth horns or horns covered in spikes. Other masks include the jolla, whose horns are covered in spikes; flores masks covered in flowers; and fantasía masks, which can take almost any form. This mask is a pepinera-type mask.

Lechones 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.

Click here to watch a short documentary on the Carnival of the Dominican Republic.

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TITLE: Lhakarpo Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Asia
COUNTRY: Bhutan
SUBREGION: Western Bhutan
ETHNICITY: Ngalop
DESCRIPTION: Lhakarpo Mask
CATALOG ID: ASBT004
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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