In general, Pre-Columbian Mesoamericans believed that the universe embraced
the heavens and underworld as one. There was no separation between the
terrestrial world and the realm of the supernatural. Everyday experience
incorporated these two worlds together; it was a basic aspect of their reality.
Thus, the world of the dead was closely integrated into the world of the living.
Deceased ancestors were believed to have powerful influences upon the living.
Major festivals honored the dead. Most likely, this mask represented the death
deity and would have been worn in such an elaborate ceremony. By appeasing
the death deity through ritual, the ancient Costa Ricans may have felt that their
ancestors would be safe in the Underworld and in turn have favorable
influences upon the living. Or perhaps, the death deity acted as an
intermediary for the humans to communicate with the deceased. Due to their
perception of the unity of the terrestrial worlds and the Underworld as one, we
can only imagine that this mask and the ritual performances in honor of the
death deity had good intentions for all: the gods, humans and the dead.