« Previous | Main | Next »

Living between Angels and Demons

Post categories:

Miguel Aguirre Miguel Aguirre | 22:14 UK time, Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Walking along the "Jiron de la Union" (the Jiron of the Union), a narrow street located in the Historic Centre of Lima, I saw a particular "casona" ( old house built during the sixteen century). My curiosity was stronger than me so I entered the house. It was impossible not to see him, his horns moving around his head, his bigs eyes looking at me, his big mouth draws an evil smile, He gave me the welcome, It' was too late to escape. He didn't tell me his name but, by that time, it was obvious. He was "the devil".

Edwin Loza lives in Puno, one of the coldest provinces in the south of Lima, exactly in the borderline between Peru and Bolivia. Hilario Mendivil lived in Cusco, land of Incas. Their names are not only known in Peru, but also in the many countries in the world. But, What do they have in common? Edwin makes “demons” and Hilario, “angels”.

Casa O'Higgins (Old house in Lima centre)

Edwin Loza: maker of devils

His wide eyes shinny look at me,. His face seem to be bathed in a rainbow. The colorful of his head is stronger than the fire. It’s hideous and beautiful at the same time. This a piece of art was made by Edwin Loza Huachari, a famous “mascarero” (craftsman of masks).

Caporal (Main Devil) It used in dances known as "diabladas"

Edwin Loza Huarachi is “puneño” (who was born in Puno). He is a self taught artist. All he knows he has learned from watching how others work artisans, collecting contributions from friends and accepting customer requirements.

The masks of Edwin Loza are used in one the most important festivity in Peru, “Fiesta de la virgen de la candelaria”. These masks have been carefully prepared based on recyclable materials such as plaster, old cloth, paper, sawdust, among others.

Costume (People wear like this to dance "diablada"

Wearing masks is not only an costume. The use of masks was born along time ago, during the Spanish invasion. (nineteen century). When the Andean communities were conquered by the Spanish, the indians wearing masks to evaded the sad reality, so they satirize the Spanish and foreing with horribles masks of devil and demons.

Mask of "Diableza"

Mask of Spanish (satirization)

Mask of old diableza

Main Devil

Edwin Loza has worked for more than 40 years, for this reason he recently was named “Amauta de artesanía” (master of crafts). His masks are so famous. They have been exported to other countries like Mexico, France, Spain and England. Even in the museums of Mexico and Germany, there are masks made by Loza.

Dance of demons

According to the legend a group of miners were trapped inside of a mine in Puno. They were slowly dying without hope of salvation. The devil had tried to take the soul, but one of them had a picture of “the Virgen de la Candelaria” in his pocket. They invoked to the virgin . When they finished praying above them opened a gap, penetrating the air and light. Since then worshiped the Virgin dancing in costumes similar to those worn by the Lord of the Underworld.

For this reason every year on february is celebrated in Puno province “La fiesta de la virgen de la candelaria” (Candelaria Virgin Feast). It’s one of the most importants traditional festivals in Peru. Curiously the main character of this activity is not the virgin...is the devil.

In this festivity is represented the good and evil. People who represent the evil they wear as demons and wear masks of devils and people who represent the good wear as an angels.

Hilario Mendivil: The art of long neck

His hands was touched by an angel. Since Hilario was a child he liked making clay figures although his family wasn't disagree, because they thought it was a waste of time so HIlario used to spend his time playing with “llamas” (a South American camelid with long neck). Years later that “llama” was his inspirations to do one of his best works of art: “The long-necked angeles”.

Christian birth (Notice the neck)

Hilario Mendivil is considered one of the most important “craftsman” in Perú and in the world. His work is mainly religious, Virgin, angels, Birth of Jesus. But he has a particular point of view. All his saints has a long neck.

Angel long neck


He was born in Cusco, in a town called “San Blas”, it’s a place very religious and catholic. Hilario grew up in a poor and traditional family for this reason his family didn’t want to have an “craftsman”, because it was a work underpaid, but finally his faith and passion for arts was stronger and todays his name is symbol of pride in Peru.

Angel long neck

His long neck angels has travelled around the world: France, Japan, Germany even the “Vatican city” where in 2002 the Hilario’s angels were displayed.

Christian birth

Hilario died in 1977, but his family has continued his work. His house is a museum know as “Museo Hilario Mendivil” where all his pieces are exposed to the public in general.

Although he has died 33 years ago his long neck angels still live in his house, in San Blas, in Cusco. They have converted that place in a branch of the sky.

Nowadays the arts of these craftmen are displayed in The O’higgins house, (Old Casona in Jiron de la Union). The exhibition is called "Treasures of art and traditions of Peru". Hilario Mendivil and Edwin Loza joined Angels and Devils in one place.





  • Comment number 1.

    First at all, Thank you:

    Pary, Mahjabeen, Marcello, Tereza, Guzin Tumer, aliozturk, jomari and beto

    I couldn't to say thank you in the previous post. I feel so glad when people from other countries take a little of their time to read this blog. I do it with a great pleasure. =)


  • Comment number 2.

    Hello everybody!!! =)))
    MIguel Aguirre, I have just read your blog!
    It’s marvelous, incredible and highly interesting =)))
    I learned a lot of new things about Peru and its customs, ethos, manners, thanks to you.
    Your photos are your eyes, your blog is your world-view. Your world is brilliant and wonderful.
    Once I happily start for Peru =))))
    Miguel, I have a question!
    Could you tell me what is your favourite place in Peru, where you come when you are happy???


  • Comment number 3.

    Hi Miguel ,
    Thanks a lot for the piece of art from Peru , which you showed us .I haven't see them before . Personally I liked long neck angels more . Hilario Mendivil must be so creative to create them ! I Wish to see some extra photo of the masks during their dancing , if it 's possible .
    Pary from Iran

  • Comment number 4.

    hi everybody,hı mıguel,
    the ıssue whıch you have chosen thıs tıme great and ınterestıng,ı have never heard it before,good job and your wrıtıng style ıs more ıncredıble,
    to be honest ı like your wrıtıng style than maın subject,
    ı thınk the most ımportant ıs how to wrıte, we can say just good job or wooow that ıs perfect, ıf you have a good pen people like reading of your ıssue and ıt wıll be really enjoyable...
    wrıtıng style is more ımpressive...

    thanks o lot

  • Comment number 5.

    Hi miguel! I like the idea of creating masks from recyclabe materials. Undoubtedly, the craftsman needs to be very skillful and inventive. However, the old masks with a tinge of patina look mere dangerous and poverful. By the way, your neat writing seems to me like a miror of your face and shows how much is of concern to you. Good for us, thanks. marianna

  • Comment number 6.

    Hi Miguel,

    It was interesting to read about the two excellent Peruvian arts and your tradition too. Their works’re spectacular very much really.

    While I was reading your writing I was wondering about that the dancing weared mask against to evil and bad things is pretty prevalent in the World. We have a tradition also its root isn’t known exactly but the people wear mask and go along in the streets and finally they dance around a big bonfire. A time ago their aim was to shoo maybe the winter or the Turkish (during period of Turkish subjection). Their masks’re different from Peruvian’s, but the reaction of the people against to evil is similar maybe :).


  • Comment number 7.

    Thank you for mentioning me
    Oh I'm so grateful to you for what are you delivering to us.
    I'm finding out so many new information about your country and its inhabitants which make me very interested in it.
    I can't get over the fact thay Peru gets always a special mention.
    You are also very good with pointing out fresh details which I could hardly get.

  • Comment number 8.

    Hi guys!!

    Thank you Didda Kaur, well, I have many favourites places in Perú. I love beaches, the northern Peru is the best options. Province like Trujillo, Piura and Trujillo are really beatiful.

    Pary, thanks. I've just posted a new photo about "diablada" dance

    Thank you Nadliv, bbllmm and Ditta your words makes me feel happy =)


  • Comment number 9.

    “Edwin makes “demons” and Hilario, “angels”. “
    Your this words recalled me the wonderful words from John Steinback’s East of Eden; (Have you chance to read this book?)

    “I believe there is one story in the world, and only one, that has inspired and frightened us. Humans are caught─in their lives, in their thoughts, in their hungers and ambitions, in their greediness and cruelty, and in their kindness and generosity too─in a net of good and evil.”

    Ali OZTURK(from TURKEY)

    It seems that Edwin Loza has chosen the devil(or evil) as a maker of devils, doesn’t it? However, I should say that his first work which you showed at the above sounds to me a little bit sweet even though it is a devil. Perhaps, I think this colourful and sweety devil could be mirror of goodness from inside of him. Because as a human being no one is completely is a devil or angle. To distinguish good and evil is very difficult. Therefore, the net in the John Steinbak’s expression would be very complex for everyone. Who is devil or angle?

    It is very common to make artistic work in Japan as the masks of Edwin Loza. For instance, I saw at TV a man make skilfully colourful butterflies. Could you guess what was the material which he was using. It was just tissues. He was taking photograph of outstandingly beautiful (they did look alike angles) and then he was trying to imitate to them by just using tissues. It was very interesting because materials was very simple but output work was remarkable. .

    Second devil is relatively scary when compared whit first one. I guess this bright colours may be for festival rather than for a devil.

    Once I had stayed an hotel at Skuba (which is a touristic city in Tokyo prefecture.) There was a big dark face(or we can call it as mask) which was located inside a showcase. So my curiosity was stronger than me() so that I tried to read explanation in front of it. But I couldn’t understand because it was in Japanese. Then I had tried to ask to a receptionist. He told me it has no meaning() However, you should see how it is scary. It was about 30cm in diameter. It should have a story. But just a story, not a reality. I know that such thinks in Japan is related to Budism or Shinduism. Just it is.

    The fourth picture of devil recalls the evil character of The Dark Knight(from the Batman Series). Who is it? Surely it is the Joker by Heath Ledger. Heath Ledger is best actor I have seen so far. It was wonderful and was more dominated character compare to the Batman in this movie. Chiristopher Nolan(director) had skilfully depicted good and evil in this movie. I strongly recommend it if you have not watched it yet. It looks alike festival of good and evil. “Curiously the main character of this activity is not the virgin...is the devil.”

    Fifth devil can be a real devil. Sixth one recall me something like mechanical than a devil but why I don’t know. Meanwhile, I guess third one would be a harlequin but actually it is devil.

    The miners who was rescued in Chilli a couple of weeks ago should dance for some kind of virgin

    I did not understand ‘llmas’ what does it mean? Could you explain more? Okay it was just inspiration. However if I understand story of llmas, I may understand why Hilario Mendivil depicted his angle with long neck. Once I saw at a documentary there was African woman who wear some kind of ring at their neck because they want to has long neck. Could it be related Hilario’s angle.

    What kind of angle of the image of third picture of angle ? Okay, it is very natural. if there is black people in the World, there could be black angle in the Universe. There is a lot of white devil, isn’t it.

    “Although he has died 33 years ago his long neck angels still live in his house, in San Blas, in Cusco.” Just as told by John Stainback;

    “There is no other story. A man will have only one queation left at the wnd of his life: was it good or was it evil? And all novels, all poetry, are built on the never-ending contest in ourselves between good and evil.”

  • Comment number 10.

    Ali OZTURK from TURKEY. I should be write it at the and of my post:)

  • Comment number 11.

    Hello Miguel,
    I had to get update...I love this stories of angels and devils! it feels you always dealing with them and sometimes is hard and difficult to find the differences. Angels, I love angels, whether I meet them my devil instinct come out and viceversa. I am aloud never get scared otherwise it would be the hell. There is a long way to Hamburg anyway!!!
    see you

  • Comment number 12.

    Hi Miguel , Thank you for the great shot !
    see you

  • Comment number 13.

    Hi Miguel,

    Thank you for another interesting entry. I like all the masks of angels but sorry I'm not interested in deamons. Keep writing..
    Have a nice weekend.
    Mahjabeen from Pakistan

  • Comment number 14.

    Hi Miguel,
    Very interesting story. or history because it is part of the history of your country. Waiting for your next post. Perhaps it will be the last one. Regards from Uruguay.


BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.