The Beauty Of Boruca Masks
When staying at Kurá Design Villas, you’ll spot the vibrantly painted masks in every room. These gorgeous intricately carved masks are handcrafted by Boruca, an indigenous Costa Rican tribe from the area around Kurá. We are proud to showcase their crafts in our rooms, as we’re big believers in supporting local communities. And in fact, we owe our name to the Borucas: Kurà means “jaguar” in the native language.
These ornate wooden masks are the pride of the Boruca people, the result of centuries of traditional mask-making. They come in different varieties and styles, and the skill of making them is passed down over many generations and centuries. In our rooms at Kurà we display some regular size masks, of about 2 feet (60cm) high; some of the masks are extra-large and impressive, with a height of 5 feet (1.5 meters). The masks are made mostly of balsa wood, which is soft for ease of carving and very light in weight.
There are two types of Boruca masks. One is the “diablo” mask, the centerpiece of the Borucas’ festival known as Juego de los Diablitos. Once upon a time the diablo masks were painted with natural dyes. Today, they are hand-painted with dazzling colors and made to look scary and sinister, as the tribe once looked to the conquistadores. In fact, the Spanish called the tribe “diablitos” or little devils, since they didn’t practice Christianity.
The other type is the “ecological” mask, which showcases artistic representations of local plants and wildlife. On these masks you’ll often spot parrots and trees, and at the bottom an old man’s face surrounded by flora and fauna. These ecological masks are crafted mostly from balsa, like the diablo masks, but also sometimes from tropical cedar wood.
Behind each mask you see at Kurá Design Villas is a community built on rich customs and traditions. We celebrate the craftsmanship passed down over generations, and support the Borucas by showcasing their art and sharing it with our guests.