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HOME : Pre-Columbian Art : Pre-Columbian Masterpieces : Basalt Funerary Mask
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Basalt Funerary Mask - PF.3078
Origin: Costa Rica
Circa: 100 AD to 500 AD
Dimensions: 17" (43.2cm) high
Catalogue: V15
Collection: Pre-Columbian
Medium: Basalt

Location: Great Britain
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In this oval-shaped mask with slit -open eyes strikes the viewers with its strong impression. The unique basalt mask shows beautifully sculpted long, straight nose and large ears. And the center of the head is divided by a small jaguar figure crawling down the forehead of the mask. The marvelous mask is sculpted in an ideally stylized manner, with incision lines defining the combed hair of the mask. Not only is the stone mask impressionable but the small jaguar on the forehead of the mask is also remarkable--its piercing round eyes seem to penetrate through the viewers' eyes looking at the mask. Moreover, the artist of this beautiful work emphasized the small jaguar's tail so that it looks like a crown or a headdress on the mask. Such marvelous mask with jaguar figure most likely had a very important function in ancient Costa Rica--perhaps it was sculpted for chieftains or shamans for ceremonial purposes. The jaguar being one of the most powerful gods in Ancient Meso-America, this mask probably symbolized the highest power, rank, and spiritual energy. Looking at the mask, one could imagine rituals and ceremonies in which a person wearing the unique mask performed magical deeds. - (PF.3078)


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