There is always a great sense of anticipation and excitement in the air as the New Year rings in once again the fabulous Danza de los Diablitos ceremony in the villages of Boruca and Rey Curré. For nearly a decade Galería Namu has been extended the great privilege of permission to purchase some of these ‘danced’ tribal masks.
The tribal mask artists appreciate that this particular mask form compliments the definitive ‘new’ traditional mask collections at Namu. Collectively they make the cultural aspect, and its evolution over the centuries of the Brunka mask art in general, come into clearer focus.
Also much appreciated is the fact that our attendance at the ceremony affords us the opportunity of taking photos of the tribal masks in use, so generally speaking, the purchase of a used mask is more than likely going to be accompanied by its photo documentation.
What a bonus that is!
Once in a great while we are offered much older tribal masks, and this year we were fortunate to acquire two 26 year old masks that are uncanny glimpses into the past as well as being great examples of the mask style from the village of Rey Curré. While the styles of the tribal masks from the two villages seem at times to be converging, these two relics indeed exemplify the very particular “Curré style.”
It is a resounding tribute to the artistic sensibilities of the Brunka artists that this ceremony continues to inspire new ways to honour their ancestors through their mask art.
At the same time, the dynamic nature of the tribe is in no way frozen in the past, nor dependent on the older tribal mask vernacular to express the inherent sentiment of this complex ceremony. In fact, strikingly contemporary creatures, seemingly straight out of a horror movie, can be seen cheek-by-jowl with a classic gold-paint encrusted chief or even the entire head of a toucan, crocodile or coati mundi.
The actual choreography of the Danza de los Diablitos ceremony, while remaining the same, has in recent years been amplified to include some adjunct ‘side’ tableaux honouring their Diquis ancestors and legends.
Complex body painting, elaborate tribal masks which helps the actors and artists play out their legends, all add to the growth and dynamic nature of ceremonial events so necessary to the identity and well-being of a struggling, small tribe.
When the new and the used come together, the sense of purpose and continuity is reinforced and our understanding of the cultural and spiritual past of this small tribe is enhanced.
To view our recent Used Ceremonial Tribal Masks click here.