Boruca Tradition

Rainforest Masks Exhibition 2022

The amazing art of the indigenous Boruca people returns to Selby Gardens' Downtown Sarasota Campus in January 2022.

Learn More

Juego de Diablitos

500 years ago, the Spanish came for our land and gold, enslaved many of our ancestors, and killed thousands. Our people retreated to a bowl in the highlands in Southwest Costa Rica to what is now known as Boruca. There, brave Brunka warriors, wearing masks of nature spirits, frightened the invaders who called us “Diablitos,” or Little Devils. Thanks to those “scary” masks, our Brunka culture survived the Spanish and many challenges since.

Learn More

Modern Masks

During the 1980’s, many young Borucans left the village in search of jobs. To prevent younger generations from losing their cultural roots, artist Don Ismael Gonzalez trained a group of eleven to twelve year-old boys in traditional mask-making. Later, some of these students were invited to the capital to study art and painting while others remained in Boruca to attend high school. For several years this group continued working in Ismael’s workshop, developing their carving and painting skills.

Learn More

Why Scary Masks?

If you feel a little uncomfortable with these ugly faces, you are not alone, but please take a closer look! These masks can remind us that beauty is often born out of ugliness.

Learn More

Boruca Artists

Meet the artists of the indigenous community of Boruca (Costa Rica) who have continued this fabulous tradition inherited from their ancestors, through the carving and painting of the masks.

Learn More