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Mascarada Puppets of Costa Rica

Updated on March 13, 2014

Traditional Costa Rican Puppets

La Mascarada is a parade of giant masked figures...

Several years ago I had the privilege of helping to create typical Costa Rican masks with my sister in law´s family. These masks are made of paper mache. They are shaped and painted to look like characters from stories told long ago in the Costa Rican tradition. The tradition of making puppets and parading them through the streets probably came from Spain. The ones made in Costa Rica have huge heads with the small bodies made by the people inside them.

Mascarades or Costa Rican puppets are used in parades and in many other celebrations. At my husband´s birthday party one of the highlights was the arrival of the Costa Rican Puppets to the loud parade band playing traditional Costa Rican music. Everyone danced with the puppets joining in. We played the limbo, danced in pairs, in singles, or in long conga lines weaving in and out of the other dancers. Tall puppets, medium sized adults and small children all danced together in typical Costa Rican fashion. The Costa Rican Puppets were the highlight of the party.

Come learn about how Costa Rican Puppets are made, how the tradition is being revived and share in the celebration of Costa Rican traditions...

Photo Credit: Typical Puppet from Costa Rica

on Flickr, Creative Commons.

Mascarada San Antonio de Desamparados - A Parade of Traditional Costa Rican Puppets

Traditions of the masquerade

The masquerade was a form of festive courtly entertainment which flourished in Europe during the sixteenth century and early eighteenth centuries, although it had previously been developed in Italy.

Origins of Costa Rican Mascaradas

World Encyclopedia of Contemporary Theatre: The Americas (Vol 2)
World Encyclopedia of Contemporary Theatre: The Americas (Vol 2)

This book discusses the origins of the contemporary Costa Rican Mascaradas including their connection to Medieval Pageants.

 

Escazú mascaradas - Costa Rican Puppets

Mascarades con Cimarrona - Masquerades and the Bands that Accompany Them

Costa Rica is bringing back the tradition of masquerades. They can now be seen in festivals throughout the country. The puppets are accompanied by La Cimarrona, a typical band that provides the music for the puppets and bystanders to dance with each other. The music provided by La Cimarrona invites the audience to join in the Limbo, the Conga or just dance to the rhythms solo, in pairs or in groups. Laughter and fun for all ages.

Día de la Mascarada Tradicional Costarricense - Masquerade Day is becoming a Tradition in Costa Rica

On October 31, 1996, the Cultural Committee of Awerri organized a parade to give an authentic reason for celebrating Halloween in Costa Rica. The next year, the Costa Rican government decreed the Day of the Traditional Costa Rican Mascarade to be held on October 31 each year.

Costa Ricans hope to eliminate the encroach of this foreign holiday which they see as encouraging children to beg. Instead they are encouraging people to make their own typical Costa Rican puppets and celebrate with music, art and dance.

Costa Rica celebra Día Nacional de las Mascaradas - Costa Rican National Day of the Puppets

Want to make your own Costa Rican Puppets?

Papier-Mache Monsters: Turn Trinkets and Trash into Magnificent Monstrosities   ~ Dan Reeder
Papier-Mache Monsters: Turn Trinkets and Trash into Magnificent Monstrosities ~ Dan Reeder

Papier-Mache Monsters: Turn Trinkets and Trash into Magnificent Monstrosities

Dan Reed teaches the techniques for making large masks of the type made in Costa Rica for the mascarades. He explains how to use newspaper and coat hangers to make large masks or puppet heads, add teeth or other appendages while still leaving the finished product light enough to actually wear.

Mascarada en Escarzu - Puppets in a Parade in Escarzu, a suburb of San Jose, Costa Rica

Costa Rica - Culture Smart!

Costa Rica - Culture Smart!
Costa Rica - Culture Smart!

Costa Rica - Culture Smart!: the essential guide to customs & culture

Whenever you travel to a foreign country it is important to be polite and gracious to your hosts. This guide is one of the best preporations for your trip to Costa Rica.

Cimarrona mascarada Costa Rica

Costa Rican Masks

Puppets at the Jazz Cafe
Puppets at the Jazz Cafe

Photo Credit: Typical Puppet from Costa Rica

on Flickr, Creative Commons.

Come write about masks on Wizzley, a fun and easy place to express your opinion:

Chat about Traditional Costa Rican Masks - Massages about Costa Rican Mask Traditions

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    • profile image

      herbielive 3 years ago

      My neighbors threw a party in Alajuela and had a small parade with the masks. Thanks for the info.

    • Cynthia Haltom profile image

      Cynthia Haltom 4 years ago from Diamondhead

      Cool lens I spent a summer in Costa Rica learning to speak Spanish. I should go during the fall.

    • jeremygoodmanCR profile image

      jeremygoodmanCR 5 years ago

      Haha these are so cool, yet also kind of funny!

    • evelynsaenz1 profile image
      Author

      Evelyn Saenz 5 years ago from Royalton

      @Expat Mamasita: Thanks, Casacicak :)

    • Expat Mamasita profile image

      Expat Mamasita 5 years ago from Slovakia

      Excellent lens. I have included it onto my Visit Central America lens

    • PromptWriter profile image

      Moe Wood 5 years ago from Eastern Ontario

      I am pretty high-strung so I think I would be screaming around every corner.

    • virtualboy profile image

      virtualboy 5 years ago

      it sounds like a lot of fun

    • profile image

      jibbajab 5 years ago

      Oh my gosh. When I visited Costa RIca - i went to a place called Ram Luna, where these masked people danced. I found these things really quite creepy. Hahah masquerade day -- would be interesting but possibly terrifying O!

    • profile image

      seoarticlecontentwriting 6 years ago

      I never heard of these, but looks like loads of fun. I love exploring culture and unique features on a holiday, as well as beaches:)

    • Showpup LM profile image

      Showpup LM 6 years ago

      Very colorful. Love learning about different traditions.

    • traveller27 profile image

      traveller27 6 years ago

      I didn't know about this even though I've heard a lot of good things about Costa Rica. Thanks for sharing.

    • liberia88 profile image

      liberia88 6 years ago

      I have noticed that they have them in almost all the parades here in Costa Rica. There are usually not in the religious processions, but today I saw them on TV in a Cartago procession for the adoration of our protecting angles. One of the masks was of a black devil. I am always fascinated by the creativity and diversity I see in the masks. Many are of political figures and some are just plain monsters. Nice lens, BTW!

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 6 years ago from Central Florida

      Wonderful idea for a holiday that links to their own traditions. New information for me to absorb. Thanks.

    • profile image

      scar4 7 years ago

      I have never been to Costa Rica, but it's so nice to learn a new culture and a new form of art.

    • jptanabe profile image

      Jennifer P Tanabe 7 years ago from Red Hook, NY

      Those puppets with their masks are amazing - love the colors!

    • evelynsaenz1 profile image
      Author

      Evelyn Saenz 7 years ago from Royalton

      @julieannbrady: I think that puppets are still very Costa Rican. They are seen in family gatherings and will soon be seen more in parades and festivals across the country as they begin to make a comeback.

    • profile image

      julieannbrady 7 years ago

      You know, we saw lots and lots of fascinating sights when we vacationed in Costa Rica -- but not the puppets. Amazing stuff!

    • evelynsaenz1 profile image
      Author

      Evelyn Saenz 7 years ago from Royalton

      @ArtByLinda: Some of the ones shown here are scary but not all of them are. Some are funny and others are just silly.

    • ArtByLinda profile image

      Linda Hoxie 7 years ago from Idaho

      These are very scary, I can't imagine the children not being afraid!

    • ArtByLinda profile image

      Linda Hoxie 7 years ago from Idaho

      These are very scary, I can't imagine the children not being afraid!

    • evelynsaenz1 profile image
      Author

      Evelyn Saenz 7 years ago from Royalton

      @jimmielanley: I think that, like Halloween, these masks are susposed to be scary. Unlike Halloween, they are not standardized. Each person makes up their own mask. I love the individuality.

    • jimmielanley profile image

      Jimmie Lanley 7 years ago from Memphis, TN, USA

      Some of them are sort of creepy! But I do enjoy arts and crafts in all forms.

    • evelynsaenz1 profile image
      Author

      Evelyn Saenz 7 years ago from Royalton

      @ZenandChic: Thank you SquidAngel.

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 7 years ago from United States

      This sounds like a lot of fun! Great lens!

    • evelynsaenz1 profile image
      Author

      Evelyn Saenz 7 years ago from Royalton

      @WhitePineLane: Costa Ricans are passionate about their country and traditions. They love to share these with visitors.

    • evelynsaenz1 profile image
      Author

      Evelyn Saenz 7 years ago from Royalton

      @Joan4: Thank you, Joan.

    • ZenandChic profile image

      Patricia 7 years ago

      Blessed by an angel!

    • ZenandChic profile image

      Patricia 7 years ago

      Love the masks!

    • profile image

      WhitePineLane 7 years ago

      Fascinating! I think it's interesting how they are trying to combat the encroachment of a foreign holiday by making it all their own. I've learned something new today!

    • profile image

      Joan4 7 years ago

      Fascinating and beautiful!