Costa Rica News & Events – Rigoberto Ramirez was only nine-years-old when he found the vocation he would practice for the rest of his life. The work of Ruben Alcazar and Macedonio Quesada dazzled him and he became an apprentice craftsman who makes masks with clay molds and bags. At 14 years old he had made his first complete game with 12 different characters.
The tradition was started last century in 1951 when the village was filled with workers coming from other parts of the Central Valley to work in the production of coffee. With this boom came the mask makers.
Don Ruben Rigoberto foster father, asked him to continue the tradition after his death in 1980 . Ruben said the technique has changed since the masks came to the city of Cachi and he wanted to preserve the tradition. For Don Ruben this craft was a form of art that held many wonderful memories.
The photojournalist Jorge Navarro fell in love with a mask he saw and wanted to know more about its author. Jorge met Don Rigoberto two years ago and had the opportunity to highlight the work of this craftsman. On the eve of the day of the Costa Rican Traditional Masquerade (October 31), Jorge spent the day at the workshop in Cachi capturing how these masks come alive through Rigoberto’s elaborate work.
Jorge learned that the people of Cachi who make these masks have been doing this over the last 60 years as a family activity. A tradition that is passed on generation after generation with the hope that it does not die. One of the youngest kids who makes masks and helps out at the workshop is Rigoberto’s nephew, who is now learning about the technique so he can teach his children some day.
The masks are mostly featured during Costa Rica’s Masquerade Day, which takes place every October 31st. People in different part of the country gather for a parade that features these large masks as a traditional Costa Rican event.
By Brenda Sotelo