Ecuadorian Festival Mask: "Aya Uma" Devil Mask
Spiritual Connections - Mask
This Devil's mask is called "Aya Uma", literally "spirit head.' It is worn during the Corpus Cristi festival in Imbabura. Corpus Cristi takes place seven days before summer solstice on June 21. The mask is a mixture of Catholic and Quechua traditions. The Inti Raymi is the time when the earth offers all of its fruits after the Andean agricultural cycle ends one of its phases. The celebration involves line dancers led by the Aya Uma. This is a mythological character wearing a mask with two faces and five to 12 horns. The two faces represent night and day, or past and present. The Aya Uma is considered the spirit of the mountain, which comes down to the communities to accompany the town people during the celebration dedicated to the sun, the moon and nature. Thus, whoever wants to be the Aya Uma must be an honest, hardworking, responsible and respected person among the community. The dancers go around in circles, representing the two solstices and two equinoxes that take place during the year. The dancers stamp their feet while they circle around, as a way to invite Mother Earth to participate in the party, so that it recuperates its vital energies and is ready to begin the new agricultural cycle where the maize and other crops will be cultivated again.