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Making of the Devil Masks of Panama


[The making of the masks is a traditional art that has been kept alive by crafters such as Mr. Dario Lopez.]

The making of the masks is a traditional art that has been kept alive by crafters such as Mr. Dario Lopez.


[It is very common that several family members participate in the process of creating the masks.]

It is very common that several family members participate in the process of creating the masks.


[The first element of the process is the mold, made of clay.]

The first element of the process is the mold, made of clay.


[Another important element is the engrudo, a glue made of wheat flour.]

Another important element is the engrudo, a glue made of wheat flour.


[Using the glue, several layers of different types of paper are pressed together over the mold.]

Using the glue, several layers of different types of paper are pressed together over the mold.


[The next step is to let the mask dry over several hours.]

The next step is to let the mask dry over several hours.


[Part of the mask is then cut open, so that it can be taken out of the mold.]

Part of the mask is then cut open, so that it can be taken out of the mold.


[After the mask has been separated from the mold, the cut is sealed.]

After the mask has been separated from the mold, the cut is sealed.


[The only thing missing before painting is to open holes for the dancer to see and breathe properly.]

The only thing missing before painting is to open holes for the dancer to see and breathe properly.


[This is how the interior of our mask looks like.]

This is how the interior of our mask looks like.


[Now, our mask is halfway painted. Some wood details such as horns and antennae have been added, but the teeth haven't, yet.]

Now, our mask is halfway painted. Some wood details such as horns and antennae have been added, but the teeth haven't, yet.


[Here, we see a finished mask, complete with all its decorative details.]

Here, we see a finished mask, complete with all its decorative details.


[This is how the mask is worn with rest of the traditional dirty devil attire.]

This is how the mask is worn with rest of the traditional dirty devil attire.


By:

Marino Jaén Espinosa
2016-07-04

One of the most striking elements of Panamanian folklore is the rich variety of devil dances. They could be dirty or clean, and hail from many different areas of the country. But they all have very colorful masks. In this article, we will explain the process of creating the masks for most of the devil varieties of Panama.

The process starts with a mold, made of clay, although many crafters prefer to use the soil found at the top of leafcutter ants hills. Once shaped, the mold if left to dry.

After the mold is ready, the crafter covers it with pork fat or vaseline, so that it does not stick to the actual mask. With the help of a glue made of wheat flour, several layers of paper are applied on top of the mold. Depending of the size and complexity of the mask, there could be anywhere between three and six layers.

After the mask has dried, the crafter cuts open the top of the mask in order to take the mold out. Then, the cut is closed. the next step is to cut out holes for the dancer to see and breathe. This is also a good time to add details such as teeth, antennae and horns.

The last step is to paint the mask. This is done according to the taste of the crafter, the type of devil mask being made and the owner request. Once the paint has dried, the mask is ready to be worn.

We would like our visitors to know that you can initiate the process to order Panamanian devil masks by clicking here. Also, we would like to thank Mr. Dario Lopez for the information about the mask making process and Tamara Ponce and Kathryn Sorensen for provinding some of the pictures illustrating this article.


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