Monday, August 9, 2010

How to make a vejigante mask

So while I was in Puerto Rico I probably experienced one of the coolest things ever...someone making a vejigante mask from scratch. A vejigante is a clown-like character in Puerto Rican festival celebrations. In today's festivals some believe that the vejigante is a figure of resistance to colonialism and imperialism. The festivals have four main characters: el Caballero, los vejigantes, los viejos, and las locas.

So how do you make the mask? Pictured above is one of the Ayala hermanos from Loiza, Puerto Rico. For over 40 years, Los Hermanos Ayala have performed throughout the world bringing with them the tradition of Loáza-style bomba deeply rooted in Africa. They are also famous for mask-making. As you can see he took a coconut (from wholesale lol) and dug out all the guts. You have to be SUPER careful when opening making sure your cuts are just right. He used several different cutting tools. He said the horns are probably the most difficult. There are other ways to make masks including paper paper mache, but coconuts are more authentic.
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