Includes paper, paper maché, or cardboard.

TITLE: Majeño Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Peru
SUBREGION: Cusco
ETHNICITY: Quechua; Aymara
DESCRIPTION: Majeño (merchant) Mask
MAKER: Angel Castillo Medina, Cusco
CEREMONY: Kuwallada Dance
AGE: ca. 1990s
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 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.


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

:

TITLE: Chhau Rakshasa
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Asia
COUNTRY: India
SUBREGION: West Bengal
ETHNICITY: Bengali
DESCRIPTION: Rakshasa Mask
MAKER: Sri Gokul Chandra Rai, Santineketan, West Bengal
CEREMONY: Purulia Chhau Dance
AGE: 1973
MAIN MATERIAL: paper maché
OTHER MATERIALS: gesso; wire; dyed cloth; tinsel; beads; dyed feathers; 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 dance of Jharkhand most commonly use masks to identify the character portrayed.

This specific mask is of the Purulia type and portrays a rakshasa, an earthbound, bloodthirsty, shape-changing demon. In the Hindu epics Ramayana and Mahabharata, rakshasas are numerous and fight on the sides of both good and evil.

:

TITLE: Qhapaq Negro Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Peru
SUBREGION: Cusco
ETHNICITY: Quechua; Aymara
DESCRIPTION: Qhapaq Negro (Great Black)
MAKER: Unknown maker in Paucartambo
CEREMONY: Kuwallada Dance (Fiesta de la Virgen del Carmen)
AGE: 2011
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 Kuwallada, a dance involving numerous masked characters in elaborate costumes. The Qhapaq Negro (qhapaq being Quechua for “mighty” or “great” and negro being Spanish for black) represents the slaves brought to work the silver mines and cotton fields in the early colonial period. They dance while singing to a slow and stately rhythm.


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

:

TITLE: Viejo Mask
TYPE: mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Nicaragua
ETHNICITY: Nahua
DESCRIPTION: Viejo Mask
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Danza del Viejo y la Vieja
AGE: 1970s
MAIN MATERIAL: paper maché
OTHER MATERIALS: plaster; paint; string; wire mesh

One of the lesser known cultural traditions of Nicaragua is the Danza del Viejo y la Vieja (Dance of the Old Man and Woman), a two-person masked dance accompanied by a whistle, marimba, and drum. The dance is a parody of infidelity and hypocrisy.  As the pair dances, the cane-wielding viejo flirts with the girls in the audience, and the vieja (usually played by a man) flirts with the boys. When each eventually realizes what the other is up to, they start arguing and beating each other.

:

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: 1970s
MAIN MATERIAL: paper maché
OTHER MATERIALS: watercolor paint

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.

:

TITLE: Volto Carnival Mask
TYPE: mask
GENERAL REGION: Europe
COUNTRY: Italy
SUBREGION: Venice
ETHNICITY: Italian
DESCRIPTION: Volto
MAKER: Carta Alta, Venice
CEREMONY: Carnival
AGE: 1988
MAIN MATERIAL: paper maché
OTHER MATERIALS: paint; ribbon

The volto (“face”) is a classic Venetian Carnival mask that covers the entire face for maximum anonymity. The lack of an opening, like the bauta mask, makes it appear more natural but less functional, as the masquerader must remove the mask for eating and drinking, and speaking is obstructed by the lack of a mouth opening.

:

TITLE: Correfoc Diable
TYPE: mask
GENERAL REGION: Europe
COUNTRY: Spain
SUBREGION: Barcelona, Catalonia
ETHNICITY: Catalan
DESCRIPTION: Diable (Devil) Mask
MAKER: Augusto Duch, Barcelona
CEREMONY: Correfoc (Festes de Mercè)
AGE: 2012
MAIN MATERIAL: paper maché
OTHER MATERIALS: paint; ribbons

Correfoc (“fire run”) is a Catholic ritual parade performed during the Festes de Mercè (Festival of Our Lady of Mercy) in Barcelona every September. Correfoc, one among the many events of the Mercè, is traditionally celebrated by posting a large sculpture representing the gates of Hell at the end of a major street after sunset, through which the Diable (Devil) enters shooting sparks from his pitchfork, along with an army of lesser devils doing the same. The flying sparks create a spectacle that is entrancing, but slightly perilous to the nearby crowd. Accompanying the devil army are fiberglass floats of hellish monsters with spark-throwers of their own. The event is undoubtedly calculated to instill a fear of Hell in the spectators.

:

TITLE: Kanaval Tiger
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Caribbean
COUNTRY: Haiti
ETHNICITY: Afro-Haitian
DESCRIPTION: Tiger Mask
MAKER: Didier Civile, Jacmel
CEREMONY: Carnival
AGE: 2007
MAIN MATERIAL: paper maché
OTHER MATERIALS: oil-based paint

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).

:

TITLE: Pra Lersi Tai Fa
TYPE: mask
GENERAL REGION: Asia
COUNTRY: Thailand
ETHNICITY: Thai
DESCRIPTION: Pra Lersi Tai Fa
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Wai Kru Ceremony; Korb Siam Kru Ceremony
AGE: 1980s
MAIN MATERIAL: paper maché
OTHER MATERIALS: plaster; gold leaf; paint; ribbons

Lersi, a hermit sage, is an adherent of a minority religion in Thailand derived from the Indian Brahmin and Buddhist traditions. The Lersi path is accessible to the laity who wish to dedicate themselves to benevolent spiritual goals. The Lersi believe themselves to acquire supernatural powers, such as healing, levitation, teleportation, pyrokinesis, transmutation of matter, and telepathy through such practices as self-isolation, meditation, and training.

The mask is used in the Korb Siam Kru ceremony as a blessing and purification, to drive away evil spirits.  It is also used in the Wai Kru ceremony to transmit Buddhist merit from the giver to the receiver.  In all cases, the mask is worn on top of the heard as a crest, rather than over the eyes like a helmet.

Lersi masks take many forms, including Brahmin gods and animal spirits.  This specific mask represents Pra Lersi Tai Fa, an incarnation of the Hindu god Shiva, who has a third eye that burns all it gazes upon (although, in the strict Brahmin tradition, Shiva has no incarnations). The ribbons indicate it was used in a Wai Kru ceremony.

:

TITLE: Volto Carnival Mask
TYPE: mask
GENERAL REGION: Europe
COUNTRY: Italy
SUBREGION: Venice
ETHNICITY: Italian
DESCRIPTION: Volto
MAKER: Carta Alta, Venice
CEREMONY: Carnival
AGE: 2011
MAIN MATERIAL: paper maché
OTHER MATERIALS: paint; ribbon

The volto (“face”) is a classic Venetian Carnival mask that covers the entire face for maximum anonymity. The lack of an opening, like the bauta mask, makes it appear more natural but less functional, as the masquerader must remove the mask for eating and drinking, and speaking is obstructed by the lack of a mouth opening.

: