Sometimes a museum almost has to be visited. That’s how we ended up in this coca museum in Puno, Peru dedicated to coca and….Andean festival costumes.
The masks in the museum were incredibly diverse and colorful and are often used for religious celebrations. Fortunately small cards described the festival associated with each mask. Perhaps most interesting is that the masks often represent characters or symbolize human characteristics associated with the holiday. It reminded me of Italy’s tradition of Commedia delle Arte, where masks represent characters that have their own individual personalities.
Many of the masks represented religious holiday festivals, some of the most lavish and decorated related to the Diablada, a famous dance from Bolivia that celebrates Virgin of Socavón. Masked dancing in the region dates back to pre-Colombian times, however the celebrations have changed with the times and are now most often associated with Catholic saint’s days and festivals.
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IF YOU GO: Unfortunately we weren’t in the area for the famous dancing festivals. It would have been great to check out the masks used in a parade, but alas we had to settle for a museum. If you are interested in other festivals and holidays full of pagentry, color, music and dance, check out holidays in Dominican Republic where festivals happen all year round.