Pearls from artists* # 335January 16, 2019
*an ongoing series of quotations – mostly from artists, to artists – that offers wisdom, inspiration, and advice for the sometimes lonely road we are on.
Federico Diez de Medina, a mask collector and archaeologist, offers a view based on an analysis of many masks and other artifacts from the Tiwanaku area. He suggests that the first masks were to exorcise evil spirits. To be effective, they had to be frightening.
“On the other hand,” he imagines, “it was obligatory for the high dignitaries in the great Aymara empire – the apus, malkus and curacas – to wear masks… for pronouncing judgments and for rites associated with religious observance, death and war, as well as for the varied dances of the seasonal rituals and other festivities. They also had to preside at sports events and decide the winners of numerous open air activities.” Among these pursuits the author mentions the jaltiris (races), ch’akusiris (fist fights), khorawasiris (slingshot) and mich’isiris (shooting darts or arrows).
Masks of the Altiplano by Manuel Vargas in Masks of the Bolivian Andes, Photographs: Peter McFarren, Sixto Choque, Editorial Quipos and BancoMercantil
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