Monday, April 11, 2016
Creative's Collections: My Colorful Vejigante Puerto Rican Carnival Mask Collection
A well cared for and curated collection will often express a lot about the owner. Why is it important to a creative person? Why does it inspire them? Where did it come from and how long did it take to acquire it? What's the history of each item and the personal history of the item to the owner? These are the questions that make examining collections fascinating for me.
I can't wait to share more collections of creatives. For now I thought I'd share one that will be with me for life. My veijigante collection is personal, cultural, and just so happens to fit my design aesthetics very purely. Nearly every time we visit Puerto Rico I'd come back with a new Vejigante mask from our favorite souvenir shop in downtown Ponce, Puerto Rico. The masks vary in their design complexity. There are masks large enough to wear on your head, covered in colorful horns, but these are appropriately pricey and hard to ship. My first first Vejigante was my large toothed orange one, selected by my parents on their solo trip to Puerto Rico. They picked my style perfectly! Orange is my favorite color and sharped-toothed beasts are a favorite of mine! A tiny black Vejigante magnet (not pictured) on my refrigerator keeps it festive year-round.
I happen to have two of the beautiful shiny black fish-face vejigante pictured above hanging in my house because one was a gift for AJ that now hangs above his nightstand. I bought it for him before we were official, I found myself missing him and wanted to keep him something personal and special, even though I was unsure about our status. When I returned we confirmed a relationship and not long after he moved in with his mask! Now I think of the sweet origin of our relationship whenever I look at it. (It also makes me think of the PTSD from exploring those gorgeous emerald mountains. I'm horribly afraid of heights! Every time I closed my eyes I was back in the lush green foliage where the coqui still sing. It was both peaceful and terrifying.)
Vejigante have a rich, varied history. Originating from Spainaird festivals and made in the image of folkloric demons, African and indigenous Taino cultures morphed the mask into it's current unique Puerto Rican identity. Made from paper mache, the large ones, not pictured here, are still worn at festivals like Ponce Carnival and Fiesta de Santiago Apostol. Ponce, where my father's family lives, is known for the unique artisan crafted masks. Their handmade looks gives each one a special singularity. What better collection for an eclectic creative soul that loves world culture, travel, monsters, and colorful kitsch galore?
What's your favorite collection and its personal history or you? If you have a collection you'd like to share on the blog I'd LOVE to see it. Send it over!