The dance of the Qhapaq Negro depicts the black slaves who were forcibly brought to the Andes by the Spanish. The Quechua term Qhapaq describes those who are noble, rich, or powerful. The ritual symbolism within this dance involves universal themes of human suffering and sympathy. The mask of Qhapaq Negro is thought to be a caricature of Afro-Peruvian ties with Africa.
Qhapaq Negro dancers perform along the streets of the village, where they wave their maqui (fist) in the air to show their command over the slaves.
Music typically accompanies the dance. Musical instruments, such as the Andean harp, have been modified from European instruments.
Images of the Qhapaq Negro dances taken by Kathleen Connell.
Object 2015.6.8: Qhapaq Negro Mask
The Qhapaq Negro mask depicts large blue eyes and a gold tooth that are thought to be symbolic representations or caricatures of the European conquerors. The symbol of wearing these masks transforms this dance into a parody of nobility of the invading conquistadores.
Object 2015.6.9: Maqui or fist of the Qhapaq Negro dance
Maqui or fist of the Qhapaq Negro dance. The maqui or fist in this dance is a symbol used to command other slaves in the region.
Another dance similar to the Qhapaq Negro is the Negrillo, which is a gloomier version of the Qhapaq Negro. The Negrillo emphasizes the imprisonment of many Afro-Peruvians slaves in the Andes. Masks used in this dance portray tears running down the face of the dancer to symbolize their hardship, struggles, and suffering.
Object 2015.6.5: Negrillo mask
Banner image taken from iperu.org.
Prepared by Kathleen B. Connell