Vejigante Masks

In Attire
Vejigante masks from Puerto Rico
Vejigante masks from Puerto Rico

My image is of Vejigante masks from my family’s native island of Puerto Rico. These masks have different meanings depending on where you are from. The masks originate from Spain, where the Vejigantes were costumes meant to represent demons and scare civilians into going back to church. After the Spanish invaded Puerto Rico, these masks collided with Taino culture to create the bright and colorful masks you see today. For us, these masks represent resistance to imperialism and warding off evil spirits. Although my family has been on the mainland for three generations, we still have these masks scattered throughout our houses. I remember even seeing these masks at my mom’s work office as a kid.
Living so far from the island had always made me feel disconnected from my roots, but as I grew up I learned the history behind these small decorations. I’m glad that my family kept these masks around because without them I may have never learned as much about myself and our history as Native Puerto Ricans.

Place(s): Puerto Rico

– Isaac Madera

Relationship:  Grandchild of im/migrant Grandchild of im/migrant