“Ponce Vejigante Mask” Crop Tee
Puerto Rico’s vejigantes (bay-he-GAHN-tay) are known for their colorful costumes with bat-like wings, the inflated animal bladders they carry, and by their masks with three or more horns. There are two distinct vejigante styles coming from two regions and two differing celebrations. One is from the city of Ponce in the South of Puerto Rico with masks made of papier-mâché, associated with the celebrations of Carnival. The second style is from the town of Loíza, far to the North, with masks made from coconuts and identified with the Feast of Santiago in late July. Both though are mysterious, mischievous characters that have become symbols of cultural identity, resilience, and resistance.
Ponce’s vejigantes have a connection with Carnival, a festival that begins in early February, just before Lent. In Carnival, the vejigantes just like in Loíza, are reveling characters that interact with the crowds and cause mischief with the inflated bladders they carry. With their characteristic snouts, sharp teeth, and multitudes of horns, Ponce’s vejigantes cast a distinctive silhouette to this internationally-celebrated festival.
In Loíza, the vejigantes represent the Muslim Moors in the Catholic festival of the Feast of Santiago. This festival, also known as the Festival of Saint James, celebrates the ouster of the Moors from Spain. In Loíza, the festival lasts three days, and its roots can be traced back to a legend of the discovery of the statue of Saint James outside of the town. Some explain their inclusion in the religious festival as a symbol of the ongoing battle of good over evil. No matter the history, Loíza’s population (primarily of African descent) views the vejigante as a strong, and unapologetic character with a history of survival and a connection to Africa that they can relate to.
The vejigante has evolved into something much more than a playful festival figure – it has become the living incarnation of the Puerto Rican spirit with all its vigor, resilience and jubilant ferocity.
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• 95% polyester, 5% elastane (fabric composition may vary by 1%)
• Premium knit mid-weight jersey
• Four-way stretch fabric that stretches and recovers on the cross and lengthwise grains
• Regular fit