Hombre Misak disfrazado de La Señorita

Artist name

Morales, Julieth

Artist year born


Artwork make date


Artwork title translation

Misak man dressed as The Lady

Artwork material

photographic print

Artwork dimensions

height: 100cm
width: 70cm

Artwork type (categories)


Accession number


Label text

The Misak or Guambiano community are one of the many indigenous groups in the department of Cauca in the southwest of Colombia. They resisted to the Spanish conquest and suffered heavily because of the violent process of their incorporation to the socioeconomic colonial system, which took away their lands and impacted severely their culture and demographics. Their cosmogony is structured in a dual system of world representation, constantly seeking for balance between the two dualities. Their calendar structures the 31st October as the last day of the year, which is dedicated to bartering goods and foods amongst the community, and remembering past ancestors. Throughout the night, food is prepared collectively amongst families whilst remembering those who passed away. These foods are left on the table for those spirits of family ancestors who visit on the first day of the year.  

Up until the mid-1990s this spiritual practice, dedicated to reconnecting with deceased family members, was followed by the Mojigangas dance. A festivity which harks back to the colonial times in which Spanish society in Colombia would mock colonised subjects through creating satirical and exaggerated representations of members of indigenous communities through dance and music. The mojigangas is an appropriation of this sneering commentary to indigenous communities and a way for the Misak community to take ownership over their own history. It consists of Misak men satirizing and creating burlesque characters of contemporary life which criticise Spanish influence in contemporary life. As a child growing up in the Misak community, Morales remembers seeing these men dancing on the first day of the year, they would be dressed up with heavily decorated masks and be welcomed into homes to perform a comedic sketch. Morales recalls one of the characters, “La Señorita”, a satirical representation of mestiza or mixed raced women. In which they are mocked and depicted as lazy, weak, with no traditions or origins, and obsessed with superficial adornment like heavy make-up. Traditionally, women are not allowed to be part of the mojigangas dance, so men would agree to take on male and female roles for the mojigangas. For Morales, the Señorita representation was also meant to act as a lesson for Misak women of what an indigenous women should aspire to: be strong, active, and preserve and practice traditions.  

In this photograph, Morales preserves the memory of the Misak ritual practice of the Mojigangas to question who creates the demands over what an indigenous woman in contemporaneity should be like and shed light over process of cultural hybridity which indigenous communities face. Cultural crossings are evident in the mask and headpiece of La Señorita, which are made by the community using materials available in local shops such as stickers, glitter, and beading. Their own attire points out to the impact of globalisation over these communities as La Señorita is dressed both in traditional Misak clothing and globally worn jeans and trainers. 

Gisselle Giron

Last updated date