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HOME : Pre-Columbian Art : Costa Rican Masks : Guanacaste Mask with a Bird and Snake Headdress
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Guanacaste Mask with a Bird and Snake Headdress - PF.3356
Origin: Guanacaste Zone, Costa Rica
Circa: 500 AD to 800 AD
Dimensions: 7" (17.8cm) high x 5" (12.7cm) wide
Collection: Pre-Columbian
Medium: Stone


Location: United States
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Description
This mask touches and exhilarates centers of life beyond our present reality. It serves as a means of transforming the ordinary to the extraordinary, the natural to the supernatural. The mask has always been used as a ritual agent of transformation in Meso-America. The ritual wearer of this mask, the shaman, not only represented the god; he was the god. He manifested the life-force. Through that ritual transformation joining the worlds of spirit and nature, man and god fused in the zone of mysterious transition marked by the mask itself This mask is the seat of the soul, where the outer and inner worlds meet. We are left to ponder over the mysteries of the universe hidden behind this mask, and the awakened insights it has brought to our own inner spirits. In an Ancient world where animal traits predominate, it is certain that these animals were symbolically significant in their myths and rituals. Birds that flew in the sky appeared to vanish into the outer world and snakes that twisted and turned on the earth appeared to vanish into the inner world. This headdress displays both bird and snake characteristics. It brilliantly symbolizes the zone of mysterious transition marked by the mask where the outer (bird symbol) and inner (snake symbol) worlds meet. This mask is the ritual agent of transformation. The artist depicts the beak of the bird gently touching the body of the snake directly above the "third eye". It may represent the delicate balance between the outer and inner worlds at the point of transition. The eyes and mouth of the mask are open creating an intense feeling of awe and innocence, perhaps of ecstasy. The ears have an asymmetrical swirling outline, which may also have symbolic significance. The rear of the bird displays a geometric pattern. We are drawn again and again through this exhilarating composition, compelled to remember the extraordinary dreams and mysteries of our life. - (PF.3356)

 

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