Where does this mask come from?

It comes from the Yare people of Northern Venezuela, close to the Caribbean sea. They were brought here as slaves and are of African descent, as are almost all Caribbeans. You can see this African influence in their music, dance, costumes and masks. Most Yare masks are made of papier mache and lots of colorful paint. This one is a typical parade mask from the Devils of Yare.

In this folkloric festival, devotion is given to the patron saint Saint Francis of Paola, to the Blessed Sacrament and to Jesus Christ. The celebration starts Wednesday with a wake where fulías (a native music style) are played, décimas (native form of poetry) are recited and rosaries and other prayers are recited until dawn. The next day the devoted, disguised as devils, perform dances around the main town square. They also parade through the streets, dressed in their red costumes and masks, dancing to the rhythm of their special music.

Later on, the group moves towards the front of the church and when the mass has ended, the Eucharist is placed at the church’s entrance and a sort of fight representation begins between the devils and the guardians. Finally, the devils surrender and kneel in front of the Eucharist to show submission, dancing to the rhythm of the bamba, a music style that is more reverential. The entire performance represents the victory of Good over Evil. The dancing devils wear red shirts, trousers and stockings, a mask depicting a devil, and canvas sandals. They carry a cross made out of blessed palm leaves, a rosary, and a medallion with the image of Christ (that can be substituted by another Christian religious image). They also carry in one hand a devil-shaped maraca, and in the other, a whip.

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