This Chinese Devil Chaser Mask was brought to Maine by Captain Wilbur Carver, a 1909 Naval Academy graduate. Carver commanded the USS Luzon in 1931, which was serving as the flagship of the 8 gunboat fleet called the Yangtze River Patrol. He picked up this this mask from the Yangtze River area as a memento. The Devil Chaser Mask could be found in Chinese homes and also used during celebrations, especially, Chinese New Year. Chinese New Year is the most important celebration in China, marking the change of year on the Chinese calendar. Since early 1900 Chinese New Year has commonly been referred to as the “Spring Festival”. It is also called “the Lunar New Year” as the Chinese calendar is primarily driven by lunar movements, meaning that it follows the moon’s cycle. During the celebration of Chinese New Year there are many festivities including extravagant parades, social events, and a celebration that concludes Chinese New Year, called the Festival of Lanterns. A Devil Chaser Mask, such as this one, would commonly be found at a village or community New Year’s parade. The purpose of the Devil Chaser Mask was to scare away evil spirits from the home or celebration taking place. The mask displays a bold, extravagant, and downright scary expression to emphasize the power of the devil and evil spirits it was attempting to fend off.
Credit: Sam Brown