Published on Dec 29, 2019

Masquerade Carnival Mask Background Images

License Info: Creative Commons 4.0 BY-NC

In the Dominican Republic (DR), carnival is celebrated during the month of February with parades across the country being held every weekend. Every city has its own traditions and different events where people dressed in colorful costumes and wearing masks parade and dance through the streets and public squares to the sounds of music and chanting. In some cities (e.g. Santiago and La Vega) there is another carnival, a more social one, which is celebrated in private clubs for a select group of members consisting of persons from the upper classes – the elite. This type of carnival is more like a masquerade ball with its own set of traditions and more elegant “costumes” and masks. For all, the carnival is a show of cultural identity and spontaneity; a liberating and fun time when people have a chance to forget about their daily chores, when they can laugh at life and the rules and people who govern them.

Who’s who – The Most Important Carnival Characters:

There are many different characters present in today’s carnival such as the chicken thief, the bear man, the Taino Indians, death dressed in a classic “skull-and-bones” costume, and many others. There are people dressed in big, massive costumes, men on sky-high stilts, men dressed as women and people in costumes that barely cover their bodies. As far as the costumes go, the only limit seems to be the imagination. Costumes can be very simple or they can be an explosion of color with feathers, rhinestones, and glitter to make them shiny and sparkly. Some people use mainly body paint to create their costume and will cover themselves from head to toe like a canvas painted by an artist. Bells, whistles and drums are typically used to add to the music and create rhythmic noises as people prance along the parades. Some cities include floats in their parades that are sponsored by local companies (e.g. Presidente beer) and sometimes people dress up their pets (e.g. dogs) in costumes and include them in the festivities.

The most popular character, however, is the Devil. The person portraying the Devil usually wears a colorful costume with masks that can be quite “ridiculous” or quite scary and grotesque. Many believe that the character of the Devil in reality portrays a mockery of the European colonizers or the evil, European oppressors.


Some masked creatures may also carry inflated animal bladders (or rubber balloons) or whips that are used to hit people with. First timers should be aware, as it can be quite painful to get hit by these objects (especially if you are unprepared), but don’t fret… it is considered good luck.

The Importance Of The Carnival Mask:

The mask is an important part of the carnival costume. It serves both as a means of disguising the true identity of the wearer and as a way of transforming the wearer from a real, living being into a “supernatural” creature. The making of the costumes and the masks is a true art form, and a process that begins months before the carnival (sometimes as early as in December). Originally, the masks were made out of clay (today they are made of paper mache); molded by freehand and laid out to dry in the sun. Horns and teeth from real animals, such as cows and bulls, were used as molds for the fake horns. When the masks were dry, they would be painted with oil paint and in some cases decorated with feathers and stones, and the inside covered with foam to make it comfortable to wear. As a final touch, rubber bands would be put in place in order to keep the mask attached to the wearer’s head.

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