TITLE: Yaqui Pasko’ola Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Mexico
SUBREGION: Sonora
ETHNICITY: Yaqui
DESCRIPTION: Mañor Mask
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Pasko’ola
FUNCTION: celebration; entertainment; funeral; protection
AGE: ca. 1980s
MAIN MATERIAL: wood
OTHER MATERIALS: paint; string; horse hair

The Yaqui and related Mayo people inhabit the desert in the Mexican state of Sonora and southern Arizona. Their religious beliefs are a syncretic version of traditional animist practices and Jesuitical Catholicism. The pasko’olas (in the Spanish, pascolas) were malignant spirits, or children of the Devil, whom God won in a game. For that reason, their masks frequently have crucifixes and they wear a belt with twelve bells, each representing an apostle. To symbolize their evil origins, the masks have ugly expressions and vermin such as lizards, snakes and scorpions painted on them. In addition, dancers wear cords and butterfly cocoons on their legs, representing snakes and their rattles. They also wear a flower on their head, to symbolize rebirth and spring. They frequently play the role of clowns, provoking laughter in the audience by mimicking animals, reversing gender roles, organizing mock hunts, and making jokes.

Pasko’olas are danced at every major religious festival, as well as at birthdays, weddings, and funeral celebrations. For example, in Vicam, pasko’olas have traditionally danced on Día de San Juan Bautista (June 24). Sometimes a group of pasko’olas will be accompanied by a deer dancer, who dances with a taxidermy deer head as a crest. Generally, only men are pasko’ola dancers, but women have sometimes been allowed to dance with the permission of the male dancers.

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TITLE: Carnival Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Mexico
SUBREGION: Chiapas
ETHNICITY: Mayan
DESCRIPTION: Español (Spaniard) Carnival Mask
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Carnival
AGE: 1988
MAIN MATERIAL: wood
OTHER MATERIALS: paint; glass eyes; animal hair eyelashes; hardware

Carnival is celebrated throughout the Catholic world with parades and other festivities, often including masqueraders. It is the celebration before the fasting season of Lent. In Chiapas, as in many other parts of Mexico, Carnival is celebrated with masked dances and parades. This character represents an Español, or Spaniard, whose light skin, green eyes, and golden blond beard was an innovation to the dark skinned, brown eyed, black haired Mayans.

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TITLE: Parachico Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Mexico
SUBREGION: Chiapas
ETHNICITY: Mayan
DESCRIPTION: Parachico Mask
MAKER: Unknown maker in Chiapa de Corzo
CEREMONY: Fiesta de San Sebastián
AGE: 1988
MAIN MATERIAL: cedar wood
OTHER MATERIALS: oil paint; glass eyes

The Baile de los Parachicos is unique to Chiapas, the southernmost region of Mexico, and is most commonly performed in Chiapa de Corzo and Suchiapa.  It may have pre-Columbian origins, but its modern version is believed to originate in the myth of a wealthy Spanish noblewoman whose sick child could not be cured by doctors in Guatemala. She eventually brought him north to Chiapas, and a Mayan priest recommended she bathe in the healing waters of Cumbujuyú for nine days.  After the child recovered, the woman held a feast of thanksgiving and her servants danced for the children. Hence the name, parachico, meaning “for the little boy.”  In modern times, the parade is held during the holiday of St. Sebastian, the patron saint of Chiapa de Corzo.

The dance begins with a parade of the parachicos through the streets led by a patrón, or boss, whose mask is somewhat more elaborate than usual. All parachicos wear black pants with colorful embroidered designs, white shirt, a bright sarape, black leather boots, and they carry a tin rattle (sonaja).  As they parade, they echo phrases shouted by the leader, such as:

¡Vivan los que ya no pueden, muchachos!” (“Long live those who can’t do it any longer, boys!” or “Long live the elders!”)

¡Viva el gusto de nosotros, muchachos!” (“Long live our shared tastes, boys!” or “Long live our traditions!”)

¡Viva la mano poderosa, muchachos!” (“Long live the powerful hand, boys!” or “Long live God’s will!”)

¡Viva la pandilla rica, muchachos!” (“Long live the rich gang, boys!” or “Long live the parachicos!”)

They may also shout out more or less improvised verses, devout or comical, such as “Little mermaid, little mermaid, sea mermaid, Praise the Holy One and señor St. Sebastián” or “Passing by your window, you threw me a lemon, the lemon hit my face, and went straight to my heart.”

They then perform a group dance to the sound of drums and marimba, guitar, or other instruments. Women in brightly colored floral dresses may accompany them in less formal dances.

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TITLE: Güegüense Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Nicaragua
ETHNICITY: Nahua
DESCRIPTION: Güegüense (Viejo) Mask
MAKER: Unknown maker in Masaya
CEREMONY: El Güegüense Dance Drama
AGE: 1990s
MAIN MATERIAL: wood
OTHER MATERIALS: paint

El Güegüense is a culturally important Nicaraguan play originating in seventeenth century Diriamba and written by an anonymous author. It was originally called Baile del Güegüence, ó Macho-Raton, translated literally as “The Dance of the Old Man, or Male Mouse.” The play, which is considered the first classic of Nicaraguan literature, ridicules greed, moral corruption, and the troubled relations between Spanish colonists, mestizos, and indigenous people. It is performed annually in Diriamba during the Feast of St. Sebastian, from January 17th to 27th.

As performed today, most characters wear masks and dance to the music of the native flute (pito), violin, guitar, and drum during the performance.  Among the characters are several machos, or mules, sometimes numbering twelve or more.  This mask represents the Güegüense (old man, or viejo) who is the protagonist of the story.

For more on the Güegüense, see The Güegüence; A Comedy Ballet in the Nahua-Spanish Dialect of Nicaragua (Daniel G. Briton ed., 1883).

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TITLE: Boteiro
TYPE: helmet mask
GENERAL REGION: Europe
COUNTRY: Spain
SUBREGION: Galicia
ETHNICITY: Iberian
DESCRIPTION: Boteiro Mask with Pantalla
MAKER: Javier Martínez González, Santa Mariña de Froxais, Viana do Bolo (1983- )
CEREMONY: Entroido (Carnival)
AGE: 2008
MAIN MATERIAL: hardwood (mask); iron rods (pantalla)
OTHER MATERIALS: lacquer; red deer antlers; cardboard; dyed paper; leather straps; hardware; foam rubber padding; adhesive; dyed satin ribbons

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 Viana do Bolo, the celebration begins with a parade of folións, marching bands playing primarily the bombo drum and other percussion. The folións are surrounded by boteiros, masqueraders with colorful costumes and poles, who charge through the crowd to make way for the musicians and vault high on their poles in a display of athletic skills. Each village around Viana do Bolo contributes a team of musicians and masqueraders, and most villages have their own unique style of mask.

In Santa Mariña de Froxais, whence this mask comes, the boteiros typically wear handmade wooden masks, lacquered but otherwise left their natural color, and a very large superstructure (pantalla) attached to the top of the mask made of heavy iron, covered with cardboard and colorful paper. The masks may weigh as much as 30 pounds (14 kg). The ability to run, jump, and vault while wearing the mask demonstrates the masquerader’s strength and athletic prowess.

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TITLE: Topeng Kabo Iwo
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Asia
COUNTRY: Indonesia
SUBREGION: Bali
ETHNICITY: Balinese
DESCRIPTION: Kabo Iwo Mask
MAKER: Ida Ketut Berati, Singapadu (1967- )
CEREMONY: Topeng Dance Drama
AGE: 1987
MAIN MATERIAL: pule wood
OTHER MATERIALS: paint; pig teeth; human hair; gilded silver jewelry; semi-precious stones

The Topeng dance drama is an important traditional entertainment and education on the island of Bali, Indonesia. Its origin can be traced to the oral history of the Balinese people and venerable palm-leaf written histories, influenced by Hinduism imported from India. The dance may have originated as early as 840 CE. Most stories depicted in this drama, called Babad Dalem, tell a political history of the islands of Bali and Java as written by the court poets of the regional kings.

Other stories are folk tales. This specific mask represents a character known as Kabo IwoKabo Iwo is a cannibalistic giant and very rarely represented in Topeng drama.

For more on Balinese masks, see Judy Slattum, Masks of Bali: Spirits of an Ancient Drama (San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 1992).

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TITLE: Topeng Kodok
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Asia
COUNTRY: Indonesia
SUBREGION: Bali
ETHNICITY: Balinese
DESCRIPTION: Kodok (Frog Princess) Mask
MAKER: Ida Wayan Muka (1971- , Mas Ubud, Bali)
CEREMONY: Topeng Dance Drama
AGE: 2018
MAIN MATERIAL: pule wood
OTHER MATERIALS: oil-based paint; string; rubber straps

The Topeng dance drama is an important traditional entertainment and education on the island of Bali, Indonesia. Its origin can be traced to the oral history of the Balinese people and venerable palm-leaf written histories, influenced by Hinduism imported from India. The dance may have originated as early as 840 CE. Most stories depicted in this drama, called Babad Dalem, tell a political history of the islands of Bali and Java as written by the court poets of the regional kings.

Other stories are folk tales. This specific mask represents a character known as KodokKodok is a frog princess from an eponymous story (Kodok Ngokek). In the drama, Kodok‘s parents oppose her marriage to a frog prince (Godogan), and play revolves around the prince’s efforts to win their approval. The mask was carved and painted by the master craftsman I. Wayan Muka.

For more on Balinese masks, see Judy Slattum, Masks of Bali: Spirits of an Ancient Drama (San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 1992).

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TITLE: Topeng Bedahulu
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Asia
COUNTRY: Indonesia
SUBREGION: Bali
ETHNICITY: Balinese
DESCRIPTION: Bedahulu (Beda Ulu) Putih Mask
MAKER: Jero Manku Pande Made Rahaejeng (Banjar Pujung Kaja Desa Talipud, 1976- )
CEREMONY: Topeng Dance Drama
AGE: 1990
MAIN MATERIAL: pule wood
OTHER MATERIALS: paint; human hair; boar tusks; string; rubber straps; foam rubber

Some Topeng dance dramas of Bali depict folk tales having their origin in Hindu scriptures, while others are indigenous to the island. This mask belongs to the latter tradition. It depicts Bedahulu, also spelled Beda Ulu, a king with the title “Astasura Ratna Bumi Banten.” He practiced black magic until he was transformed into a wild boar demon named Babi Ngepet, then he sneaked into villages at night to rob the villagers.

For more on Balinese masks, see Judy Slattum, Masks of Bali: Spirits of an Ancient Drama (San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 1992).

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TITLE: Fieros Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Guatemala
SUBREGION: Escuintla
ETHNICITY: Mayan (Q’eqchi’)
DESCRIPTION: Fieros Mask of Grumpy the Dwarf
MAKER: Unknown maker in Palin
CEREMONY: Baile de los Fieros
AGE: 1960s
MAIN MATERIAL: wood
OTHER MATERIALS: paint

The Baile de los Fieros (Dance of the Wild Ones) is performed on Corpus Christi in the streets of some small towns in Guatemala in the course of a parade. The dancers precede the town priest and the image of the town’s patron saint beginning at the church and circulating around town. The dancers wear a wide variety of masks and costumes, including clowns, animals, and popular characters. The mask participants are continuously attacked by a man in a bull costume made of a wood frame covered with leather. The bull is violently swung at the participants who attempt to dodge the attacks and are occasionally injured. The heavy masks help protect the faces of the dancers.

This specific mask dates to the 1960s and represents the character Grumpy from the 1937 Disney movie Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

For more on Guatemalan masks, see Jim Pieper, Guatemala’s Masks and Drama (University of New Mexico Press, 2006).

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TITLE: Rarung
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Asia
COUNTRY: Indonesia
SUBREGION: Bali
ETHNICITY: Balinese
DESCRIPTION: Rarung Mask
MAKER: Ida Made Sutiarka, Singapadu (1974- )
CEREMONY: Calonarang
AGE: 2017
MAIN MATERIAL: pule wood
OTHER MATERIALS: leather; cotton; felt; rubber straps; oil-based paint; gilded silver jewelry; rhinestones; mirrors; gold leaf

Rarung is a witch-demon and one of the primary apprentices of Calonarang, the child-eating demon and queen of the evil witches (leyak). She leads her army against the forces of good, represented by the protective Barong and his allies. Calonarang has many affinities to the destructive Hindu god Kali, worshiped in parts of India, but she also seems to be associated with the Javanese mythical witch by the same name. Rarung appears in the Iyeg Rarung episode of the Calonarang, in which the eponymous character disputes with Minister Madri of Daha. Other apprentices include Lenda, Lendi, Gandi, Weksirsa, Jaran Guyang, and Mahesa Wedan.

For more on Balinese masks, see Judy Slattum, Masks of Bali: Spirits of an Ancient Drama (San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 1992).

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