Nestled in the lush and beautiful Talamanca Mountains of Costa Rica, lives a tribe whose culture, although rich with color, vibrancy, and history, is slowly becoming less prominent amidst a modernized world. To the Boruca people in the canton of Buenos Aires, the country is just as breath-taking as it ever was, but to tourists who have never been there, it is just another travel destination. Until they step inside.
Almost 140 km2, the Reserve Indigena Boruca extends through some of the most alluring countryside in the Puntarenas Province of Costa Rica. However, nothing compares to the immense culture of the people who inhabit this area. Although the stories, folklore, and even the language are disappearing over time, there is one aspect of the Boruca people that never seems to fade: La Danza de los Diablitos and the masks that define it.
Performed every winter for their New Year’s celebration, this intricate dance, literally translated as “the dance of the little devils,” has been around since colonial times, and is highly indicative of the history of the indigenous people’s encounter with the Spanish conquistadors, as well as other legends which show the people as a dynamic yet struggling tribe. In this dance, Boruca men and women wear masks that are carved by some of the greatest craftsmen in the Southern hemisphere and are known around the world for their intricacy, lively colors, and fascinating designs.
Boruca masks mainly fall into three categories: the devil, ecological devils, and other scenery and animals typical for Costa Rica, and this tribe gathers most of its economical presence from selling these masks as well as other elements of their artistry.