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Inca Masks


The Inca masks as we know it today are the result of the Incas knowledge collection from many pre Inca cultures. Like Paracas, Nazca, Mochica, Sican and Chimu. They use it for ceremonies, religious purposes and burial offerings. The Incas absorb all knowledge they could from these cultures. The mask rituals we know today were copy from these cultures as well.

The use of Masks in celebrations is an old Peruvian tradition. The origins of the use of masks, goes long before all pre Inca cultures. Inside the Peruvian territory, you can find hundreds of caves with paintings on the walls, of hunters that use masks to get close to their pray. During the last five centuries the use, mining and types of Inca Masks has change drastically.
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    • gold inca masks
      The right term for the Inca gold is Tumbanga.
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    • pre inca mask
      The use of a burial mask was common for the pre Inca cultures of the north of Peru.
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    • devil mask
      The Inca devil mask represents all negative thoughts and the evil inside everyone.

The Incas create golden masks for religious ceremonies, but not so often for burial ceremonies like the cultures before them. The Incas designs target mainly the utility of the mask. For example, the mask should work as helmet, for decoration and for religious ceremonies as well. We are sorry to tell you but, maybe all Inca masks you have seen before are not from the Incas. It is a large chance that they belong to pre Inca cultures.

The Incas use wood, ceramics, cotton, feathers and any other material with attractive colors, to make masks of all types. Each region of the Inca Empire has they own style of masks, celebrations and secondary religions. Plus each community has a different calendar of celebrations for different parts of the year. Using this facts, we can imagine that during the Incas rule, exist hundreds if not thousand of different masks.

Peru has a large variety of Inca masks that survive the mix of cultures of the Spaniards and the Incas. Peruvian artisans follow Inca tradition when they make these masks. They make them especially for several old Inca ceremonies to pray to the land, to the mountains and to the nature. Today many old Inca Religion ceremonies are still perform by the Peruvians that live in the Andes.
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    • paucartambo mask
      Paucartambo mask, it is use today for religious celebrations in Cuzco.
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    • inca masks
      Another devil mask, use in religious celebrations in the highlands of Peru.
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    • supay mask
      This is Supay the demon god; he live in the Inca underworld and he could be good or bad.

The Incas force all conquered cultures into its own culture. But occasionally, the Incas adopt customs from the conquered cultures. A good example is the burial Inca masks; still, it was rarely use by the Incas Society. When the Incas conquer a new culture they were careful enough to do not destroy technology that could be useful for them. That is how they transform from a simple tribe to the biggest culture of South America.

The Peruvian People use masks in special religious celebrations. Like processions, Christian celebrations or even in Holy Week. Most of them are celebrate with dances and performances from local people, using stylish Inca masks. It is estrange that during regular Christian celebrations, many pagan gods are show as part of the religion ceremony. It's interesting how Peru has such unique Catholic-Inca mix version of the Catholic religion.

Among the Inca masks collection that still is in use until today. We can find the devil mask that is a mix of old Inca demons and the Spaniard version of the devil. The dance where the devil mask is use, tell a story of old Incas demons in an interesting mix with the Dante Divine Comedy argument. It's the prefect example of how well these cultures have melted together, into what we call today, the Peruvian culture.
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