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HOME : Pre-Columbian Art : Basalt Sculptures : Atlantic Watershed Basalt Funerary Mask
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Atlantic Watershed Basalt Funerary Mask - PF.4598
Origin: Atlantic Watershed Zone, Costa Rica
Circa: 500 AD to 1000 AD
Dimensions: 13.25" (33.7cm) high
Collection: Pre-Columbian
Style: Atlantic Watershed
Medium: Basalt

Location: United States
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Many cultures for thousands of years around the world have made masks and used them as part of daily life. The mask is intended to shield, to protect, to transfigure and transform the person who wears it. In ritual ceremonies the mask can be a device to attract spirits who use it as an instrument to communicate with the living. Also, masks were used in dramatic performances, particularly striking in ancient Greek and Roman plays, to personify deities or well-known heroes. When an expert artist creates a mask for a specific purpose it can become a very powerful object. This is just such a mask, which immediately attracts and holds our attention with its deep eyes and forceful expression. The intricately carved headband balances the fine lines under the eyes and around the ears. What we have here may be an image of a sacrificial victim, which would then represent in stone the 'energy" acquired from the captive and the strength of the captor. Another interpretation may be that this mask was used in ritual ceremonies like a dramatic play of real events. Hence the downcast look of the face may be the representation of a warrior after he has been defeated, and the whole drama being a re- enactment of a great victory. The extraordinary fact is that we need not know the mask's exact purpose to appreciate its beauty, its elegance of design and dramatic presence. - (PF.4598)


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