ARUCHICO FESTIVAL DANCERS WITH AYA UMA MASKS

Donated by Norman Whitten 2015

These festival characters exemplify cultural and symbolic syncretism in the Andes. Their hats and zamarros (goat-skin chaps) are reflections of the hacienda. The Aya Uma or spirit head masks they wear, however, have deep connections with Andean cosmovision. The Aya Uma mask has two faces—one that gazes forward into the past and the other backward into the future. Native Quichua anthropologist, Enrique Cachiguango (2010), writes that this double-gaze, which captures an inverse relation between time and space, is a message of wisdom for runakuna (indigenous people) to walk toward the future in a self-determining way without losing sight of the past.

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