The Diablada was probably inspired by native Bolivian tales of the tio (devil) in the mine, who embodied the life-giving but dangerous power of the inner earth. After the Spanish conquest in the sixteenth century, the local inhabitants were forced by their conquerors to work in the silver and tin mines where they faced great hardship and danger. The miners made offerings to the tio to avoid accidents and to help them find rich veins of precious metals.
Miners dressed as diablos (devils) first appeared in the Oruro carnival in the 1790s. The writhing reptiles, toads, snakes and lizards on the masks derive from traditional healing practices connected with earthly fertility.