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Cultural Masks

Cultural Masks: A Part of Costa Rica History~

Indigenous people of Costa Rica can be found throughout this small Central American country, however, it is within the southern Pacific zone that cultural masks are created for an annual ceremonial event known as the Dance of the Little Devils (Danza de los Diablitos) by the Boruca* tribe.

This culturally important Danza de los Diablitos, is a masked socio-historic ceremony which re-interprets the invasion of their territory by the Europeans and subsequent resistance to these newcomers; the hand carved cultural masks are pivotal objects of the ceremony.

Rey Curré (Yimba Cájc in the Boruca language) is the secondary, smaller village of this indigenous tribe a separately administered reservation of the Boruca of Costa Rica.  As is their principal village and reservation of Boruca, the community of Rey Curré is situated along the mighty Térraba River – the central artery and life’s blood of the Boruca, whereas Boruca village is situated 8 kms up in the neighboring hills surrounding this river’s course.

Although today the majority of Boruca live in the vicinity of its primary village, originally, before the Spanish newcomers started to explore and settle the area, the Boruca lived along the lower course of the Térraba River and its tributaries; one can witness houses in Rey Curré built on top of the stone ruins of their ancestors.

The main Boruca village holds their ceremonial reenactment at the end of the year, over the New Year holiday. The village of Rey Curré celebrates, generally, towards the end of January, beginning of February.

Although this three-day annual ceremony conserves the same symbolism and choreography in both villages, there often exist noticeable stylistic differences in the rendering of the carved wood cultural  masks (tropical cedar or balsa) worn by the masked dancers (jugadores).  The ‘Rey Curré style masks tend to harken back to the older mask aesthetic.

The indigenous people who participate in this ceremonial tradition produce their individual and unique cultural masks.  At the event’s end if not pulverized during the ceremony, the masks, previously, had been discarded and new ones made for the following year.

Collectors recognize the value of the Boruca indigenous people, their part in Costa Rica history and their art form in these cultural masks.  Galería Namu in Costa Rica, attends both annual events photographing and purchasing thus providing visual documentation of the used ceremonial cultural masks.

Note: For a limited time, while quantities last, a 15 minute in length DVD of video taken at this culturally rich Boruca event  is included with orders of the used ceremonial masks.  At the time of this writing, (Jan 30 2011) Galeria Namu is in Rey Curré village for the event and expected to return with a minimum of 35 Boruca used masks.

* Boruca is also referred to as Brunka

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