Tribal Masks of Costa Rica

Danced Tribal Masks ~

Costa Rica Tribal Masks 2012

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!

Integration: New and Used

Boruca Ceremony 2012

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 Dance

Boruca Masks 2012

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.

4 thoughts on “Tribal Masks of Costa Rica”

  1. Hello!

    I’ve really enjoyed your blog on the intricate mask art work from the people of Rey Curré Village.

    Danza de los Diablitos ceremony seems like an exciting time. The masks are truly beautiful. The Dance and body painting make for a great show.

    I’d love to catch that sometime!

    Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thank you, Karri, you are so right in your comments. The cultural pieces and the ceremonial dance are quite amazing. Why not make it a goal to attend it? The dates every year are: Boruca Village Dec 31 – Jan 2 and the Rey Curré Village is usually the 1st weekend in February. We appreciate your comments!

  2. Mis saludos, estoy interesado en comprar alguna máscara cabécar y bribrí pero no sé de qué manera puedo comprar ambas he buscado en San José pero solo encuentro borucas, ¿me pueden ayudar en esta búsqueda por favor? gracias

    1. Hola Humberto, gracias por su comunicación. Fíjese que en realidad, en Costa Rica, solo un grupo aborigen, entre los 8 de este territorio, los Brunka de los pueblos de Boruca y Rey Curré (Yímba), pueden, con propriedad, llamarle a la fabricación y el uso tradicional centenario de las máscaras labradas en madera. Cualquiera máscara “tradicional” de lops otros grupos nativos de acá sería no más un souvenir o invento de un solo individuo Cabécar, Bribri, Maleku, Ngobe, etc. La tradición venerable de lo de la ‘kaísh’egua’ (máscara labrada) es de los Brunka más nadie.

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