TITLE: Kali Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Asia
COUNTRY: Nepal
SUBREGION: Kathmandu Valley (?)
ETHNICITY: Newar (?)
DESCRIPTION: Buddhist God Mask
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Unknown, possible Nava Durga
AGE: ca. 1960s
MAIN MATERIAL: wood
OTHER MATERIALS: pigment; woven cotton strap

Very little is known about this mask. It may come from the Newar people of the Kathmandu Valley. It represents the goddess Kali.

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TITLE: Newar Lakhe Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Asia
COUNTRY: Nepal
SUBREGION: Kathmandu Valley
ETHNICITY: Newar
DESCRIPTION: Lakhe Mask
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Nava Durga
AGE: 1950s
MAIN MATERIAL: wood
OTHER MATERIALS: mirror; adhesive; paint; cotton cloth; cotton batting; vegetable fiber; hardware

The Newar people of the Kathmandu Valley have a syncretic Hindu-Buddhist religious tradition.  They practice several kinds of masked dance for both sacred and dramatic purposes. Sacred masked dance such as Nava Durga illustrate the nine forms that the goddess Durga takes to fight demons (asura). Dancers belong to a secret society. Nava Durga masks are considered to be alive and are empowered with supernatural forces. Tantric Hindu priests renew the power of the masks each year by performing certain rituals and reciting secret mantras. As soon as the dancer puts their mask on over his face, he becomes possessed by the divinity the dancer represent. The various gods and animals and protect and purify the village.

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TITLE: Boruca Jaguar Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Costa Rica
SUBREGION: Reserva Rey Curré, Puntarenas
ETHNICITY: Boruca
DESCRIPTION: Warrior Mask in the Form of a Jaguar
MAKER: Melvin González Rojas (Puntarenas, 1978- )
CEREMONY: Cagrúv Rójc (Fiesta de los Diablitos)
AGE: 2019
MAIN MATERIAL: balsa wood
OTHER MATERIALS: paint; adhesive; rubber straps; plastic straps; turkey and other feathers

The Boruca people mostly inhabit two reservations in the Puntarenas Province of Costa Rica. Technically, many persons classified as Boruca are members of neighboring indigenous peoples, such as the Coto and Quepo people, who have banded with the Boruca to preserve their traditions and relative independence. Their best known holiday is the Fiesta de los Diablitos (Festival of the Little Devils), properly called Cagrúv Rójc in the Boruca langauge, and held from December 30th to January 2nd each year. The ceremony represents a major community event and a retelling of the Spanish conquest of the Boruca people (represented by masked forest spirits known as diablos, but actually representing indigenous warriors).  All masqueraders are men. The diablos begin parading in the morning at the direction of an elder devil, el Diablo Mayor, representing the glory of the Boruca culture before the conquest.  On January 1st, a masquerader in a toro (bull) mask enters the festivities to represent the invading Spanish. The toro chases the diablos about the village. Although the diablos resist, the toro ultimately knocks down all the diablos, representing the Spanish victory.  Afterward, the diablos return to life, sending the toro into hiding while they hunt him with the help of a masquerader posing as a dog. Ultimately they find, capture, and symbolically burn the toro, signifying the end of the festival. The toro mask is not burned, but saved for the subsequent year’s ritual.

This mask, representing the diablo as a warrior in the form of a jaguar, was made by the master carver Melvin González and used by a series of participants from 2019 to 2023 in Cangrúv Rójc celebrations. Eventually, the rubber straps broke and were partially replaced with plastic.

Click above to watch a short documentary film about the Cagrúv Rójc ceremony of Boruca, Costa Rica.

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TITLE: Boruca Toucan Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Costa Rica
SUBREGION: Reserva Rey Curré, Puntarenas
ETHNICITY: Boruca
DESCRIPTION: Warrior Mask with Toucans
MAKER: Santiago Leiva Morales (Bir, 1991- )
CEREMONY: Cagrúv Rójc (Fiesta de los Diablitos)
AGE: 2022
MAIN MATERIAL: balsa wood
OTHER MATERIALS: paint; adhesive; metal hardware; plastic straps

The Boruca people mostly inhabit two reservations in the Puntarenas Province of Costa Rica. Technically, many persons classified as Boruca are members of neighboring indigenous peoples, such as the Coto and Quepo people, who have banded with the Boruca to preserve their traditions and relative independence. Their best known holiday is the Fiesta de los Diablitos (Festival of the Little Devils), properly called Cagrúv Rójc in the Boruca langauge, and held from December 30th to January 2nd each year. The ceremony represents a major community event and a retelling of the Spanish conquest of the Boruca people (represented by masked forest spirits known as diablos, but actually representing indigenous warriors).  All masqueraders are men. The diablos begin parading in the morning at the direction of an elder devil, el Diablo Mayor, representing the glory of the Boruca culture before the conquest.  On January 1st, a masquerader in a toro (bull) mask enters the festivities to represent the invading Spanish. The toro chases the diablos about the village. Although the diablos resist, the toro ultimately knocks down all the diablos, representing the Spanish victory.  Afterward, the diablos return to life, sending the toro into hiding while they hunt him with the help of a masquerader posing as a dog. Ultimately they find, capture, and symbolically burn the toro, signifying the end of the festival. The toro mask is not burned, but saved for the subsequent year’s ritual.

This mask, representing the diablo as a warrior surrounded by totemic toucans, was used by Justin Araya Leiva (San José, 2001- ) in the 2022 Cangrúv Rójc celebration.

Click above to watch a short documentary film about the Cagrúv Rójc ceremony of Boruca, Costa Rica.

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TITLE: Boruca King Vulture Warrior
TYPE: face mask; accessory
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Costa Rica
SUBREGION: Reserva Rey Curré, Puntarenas
ETHNICITY: Boruca
DESCRIPTION: Warrior Mask with a Rey Zopilote (King Vulture)
MAKER: José Emilio Granda Obanda (Boruca, 1985- )
CEREMONY: Cagrúv Rójc (Fiesta de los Diablitos)
AGE: 2022
MAIN MATERIAL: balsa wood
OTHER MATERIALS: paint; metal hardware; rubber straps

The Boruca people mostly inhabit two reservations in the Puntarenas Province of Costa Rica. Technically, many persons classified as Boruca are members of neighboring indigenous peoples, such as the Coto and Quepo people, who have banded with the Boruca to preserve their traditions and relative independence. Their best known holiday is the Fiesta de los Diablitos (Festival of the Little Devils), properly called Cagrúv Rójc in the Boruca langauge, and held from December 30th to January 2nd each year. The ceremony represents a major community event and a retelling of the Spanish conquest of the Boruca people (represented by masked forest spirits known as diablos, but actually representing indigenous warriors).  All masqueraders are men. The diablos begin parading in the morning at the direction of an elder devil, el Diablo Mayor, representing the glory of the Boruca culture before the conquest.  On January 1st, a masquerader in a toro (bull) mask enters the festivities to represent the invading Spanish. The toro chases the diablos about the village. Although the diablos resist, the toro ultimately knocks down all the diablos, representing the Spanish victory.  Afterward, the diablos return to life, sending the toro into hiding while they hunt him with the help of a masquerader posing as a dog. Ultimately they find, capture, and symbolically burn the toro, signifying the end of the festival. The toro mask is not burned, but saved for the subsequent year’s ritual.

This mask, representing the diablo as a king vulture (rey zopilote), was used by the maker in the 2022 festival for 15 days.

Click above to watch a short documentary film about the Cagrúv Rócj ceremony of Boruca, Costa Rica.

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TITLE: Xantolo Viejo Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Mexico
SUBREGION: San Luís Potosí
ETHNICITY: Nahua
DESCRIPTION: Viejo (Old Man) Mask
MAKER: Herman Chávez Guerrero (1963- , San Martín Chalchicuautla)
CEREMONY: Day of the Dead (Xantolo)
AGE: 2022
MAIN MATERIAL: paperboard
OTHER MATERIALS: oil-based paint; glue; cotton cloth; elastic straps

Day of the Dead is celebrated in many parts of Mexico. In San Luís Potosí, the celebration is called Xantolo and differs from region to region.  In the Huasteca region, some villages are primarily Nahua in ethnicity, and others are primarily Tenek. The village of San Martín Chalchicuautla is mainly Nahua. Xantolo in the Nahua language is called Miijkailjuitl, and it is celebrated with decorations of the graves of ancestors using flowers (primarily marigolds and coxcombs) and representations of the Catrina, an elaborate female skeleton figure. In San Martín, the celebration also includes masked dances to the music of guitars and violin.

The dance is fairly elaborate, with an outer ring of viejos (old men), viejas (old women), and two paired characters known as El Cole and La Mamanina. The middle ring is populated with diablos (devils) with varied appearances, but primarily having long ears, horns, and a long tongue. There is also a character called El Caminito, who resembles a horseman riding a toy wooden horse (and possibly intended to represent St. James the Apostle). The inner ring has at least one Catrina representing death, and male and female “Comanches,” meant to represent North American indigenous warriors, who carry whips. They dance in a circle, and at some point the Cole may flirt with the Mamanina or a vieja, satirizing a drunken and lecherous old man to the amusement of onlookers. The dances are repeated throughout the day, and the dancers are thought to lend their bodies to dead ancestors to participate in the celebration.

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TITLE: Xantolo Vieja Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Mexico
SUBREGION: San Luís Potosí
ETHNICITY: Nahua
DESCRIPTION: Vieja (Old Woman) Mask
MAKER: Herman Chávez Guerrero (1963- , San Martín Chalchicuautla)
CEREMONY: Day of the Dead (Xantolo)
AGE: 2022
MAIN MATERIAL: paperboard
OTHER MATERIALS: plastic eyelashes; oil-based paint; glue; cotton cloth; elastic straps

Day of the Dead is celebrated in many parts of Mexico. In San Luís Potosí, the celebration is called Xantolo and differs from region to region.  In the Huasteca region, some villages are primarily Nahua in ethnicity, and others are primarily Tenek. The village of San Martín Chalchicuautla is mainly Nahua. Xantolo in the Nahua language is called Miijkailjuitl, and it is celebrated with decorations of the graves of ancestors using flowers (primarily marigolds and coxcombs) and representations of the Catrina, an elaborate female skeleton figure. In San Martín, the celebration also includes masked dances to the music of guitars and violin.

The dance is fairly elaborate, with an outer ring of viejos (old men), viejas (old women), and two paired characters known as El Cole and La Mamanina. The middle ring is populated with diablos (devils) with varied appearances, but primarily having long ears, horns, and a long tongue. There is also a character called El Caminito, who resembles a horseman riding a toy wooden horse (and possibly intended to represent St. James the Apostle). The inner ring has at least one Catrina representing death, and male and female “Comanches,” meant to represent North American indigenous warriors, who carry whips. They dance in a circle, and at some point the Cole may flirt with the Mamanina or a vieja, satirizing a drunken and lecherous old man to the amusement of onlookers. The dances are repeated throughout the day, and the dancers are thought to lend their bodies to dead ancestors to participate in the celebration.

Click above to watch a short documentary film about the Xantolo celebration of the state of San Luís Potosí, Mexico.

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TITLE: Xantolo Soldier Calavera Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Mexico
SUBREGION: San Luís Potosí
ETHNICITY: Nahua; Tenek
DESCRIPTION: Mexican Soldier Calavera (Skull) Mask
MAKER: Candelario Manuel Santos (1996- , Tampamolón Corona)
CEREMONY: Day of the Dead (Xantolo)
AGE: 2022
MAIN MATERIAL: wood
OTHER MATERIALS: oil-based paint

Day of the Dead is celebrated in many parts of Mexico. In San Luís Potosí, the celebration is called Xantolo and differs from region to region.  In the Huasteca region, some villages are primarily Nahua in ethnicity, and others are primarily Tenek. The population of the village of Tampamolón Corona is of mixed Tenek and Nahua ethnicity. Xantolo in the Nahua language is called Miijkailjuitl, and in Tenek is called Tsamnek ajib. It is celebrated with decorations of the graves of ancestors using flowers (primarily marigolds and coxcombs) and representations of the Catrina, an elaborate female skeleton figure. In Tampamolón, the celebration also includes masked dances (comparsas) to music.

The dance involves varied masked figures representing different aspects of life and death, including catrinas, devils, skulls (calaveras), clowns, pregnant women, prositutes, old men and women, and indigenous persons. It begins and ends as a danced parade with a period spent in the central plaza dancing as a group.

Click above to watch a short documentary film about the Xantolo celebration of the state of San Luís Potosí, Mexico.

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TITLE: Xantolo Devil Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Mexico
SUBREGION: San Luís Potosí
ETHNICITY: Nahua
DESCRIPTION: Diablo (Devil) Mask
MAKER: Hector Saúl Orta Fernández (1985- , San Martín Chalchicuautla)
CEREMONY: Day of the Dead (Xantolo)
AGE: 2021
MAIN MATERIAL: calfskin
OTHER MATERIALS: bull horns; javelina teeth; glue; cotton cloth; oi-based paint; foam rubber; polyester straps; recycled truck tire ears and tongue; twine; plastic cloth; metal hardware

Day of the Dead is celebrated in many parts of Mexico. In San Luís Potosí, the celebration is called Xantolo and differs from region to region.  In the Huasteca region, some villages are primarily Nahua in ethnicity, and others are primarily Tenek. The village of San Martín Chalchicuautla is mainly Nahua. Xantolo in the Nahua language is called Miijkailjuitl, and it is celebrated with decorations of the graves of ancestors using flowers (primarily marigolds and coxcombs) and representations of the Catrina, an elaborate female skeleton figure. In San Martín, the celebration also includes masked dances to the music of guitars and violin.

The dance is fairly elaborate, with an outer ring of viejos (old men), viejas (old women), and two paired characters known as El Cole and La Mamanina. The middle ring is populated with diablos (devils) with varied appearances, but primarily having long ears, horns, and a long tongue. There is also a character called El Caminito, who resembles a horseman riding a toy wooden horse (and possibly intended to represent St. James the Apostle). The inner ring has at least one Catrina representing death, and male and female “Comanches,” meant to represent North American indigenous warriors, who carry whips. They dance in a circle, and at some point the Cole may flirt with the Mamanina or a vieja, satirizing a drunken and lecherous old man to the amusement of onlookers. The dances are repeated throughout the day, and the dancers are thought to lend their bodies to dead ancestors to participate in the celebration.

This devil mask was danced by its maker, Hector Orta, in the Xantolo celebration of San Martín Chalchicuautla of 2021.

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TITLE: Xantolo La Comanche Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Mexico
SUBREGION: San Luís Potosí
ETHNICITY: Nahua
DESCRIPTION: La Comanche (Female Comanche) Mask
MAKER: José Hernández (1992- , San Martín Chalchicuautla)
CEREMONY: Day of the Dead (Xantolo)
AGE: 2022
MAIN MATERIAL: calfskin
OTHER MATERIALS: aluminum sheet; stitching; glue; foam rubber; oil-based paint; shoelaces

Day of the Dead is celebrated in many parts of Mexico. In San Luís Potosí, the celebration is called Xantolo and differs from region to region.  In the Huasteca region, some villages are primarily Nahua in ethnicity, and others are primarily Tenek. The village of San Martín Chalchicuautla is mainly Nahua. Xantolo in the Nahua language is called Miijkailjuitl, and it is celebrated with decorations of the graves of ancestors using flowers (primarily marigolds and coxcombs) and representations of the Catrina, an elaborate female skeleton figure. In San Martín, the celebration also includes masked dances to the music of guitars and violin.

The dance is fairly elaborate, with an outer ring of viejos (old men), viejas (old women), and two paired characters known as El Cole and La Mamanina. The middle ring is populated with diablos (devils) with varied appearances, but primarily having long ears, horns, and a long tongue. There is also a character called El Caminito, who resembles a horseman riding a toy wooden horse (and possibly intended to represent St. James the Apostle). The inner ring has at least one Catrina representing death, and male and female “Comanches,” meant to represent North American indigenous warriors, who carry whips. They dance in a circle, and at some point the Cole may flirt with the Mamanina or a vieja, satirizing a drunken and lecherous old man to the amusement of onlookers. The dances are repeated throughout the day, and the dancers are thought to lend their bodies to dead ancestors to participate in the celebration.

Comanches can be male or female. The metal crown is intended to represent a feathered headdress and on some masks includes actual feathers (usually of a peacock). Males tend to have painted mustaches and wear masculine clothing, while females wear dresses and have pink circles on their cheeks and bright pink or red lips.

Click above to watch a short documetnary film about the Xantolo celebration of the state of San Luís Potosí, Mexico.

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