Living between Angels and Demons
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
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.
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.