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HOME : Pre-Columbian Art : Skull Masks and Sculptures : Stone Funerary Skull Mask
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Stone Funerary Skull Mask - PF.4475
Origin: Costa Rica
Circa: 500 AD to 1000 AD
Dimensions: 18.75" (47.6cm) high
Collection: Pre-Columbian
Medium: Green Stone

Location: United States
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For as long as human beings have been on this earth they have wrestled with the meaning of life and the mysteries of death. Neither has yielded up their secrets, yet nearly all the world's cultures have maintained their fervent belief in an afterlife. No matter how this other life is imagined- whether as a blissful Elysium field where friends and relatives interact in a paradisiacal setting; or a purely spiritual existence whirling in the cosmic beauty of God; the spark of the soul is believed by most people to be carried on into a higher and more rarified realm. Like the Egyptians, the ancient Costa Ricans were fascinated in these speculations, and frequently used art as a medium towards understanding and explanation. Immediately we are seized by the sheer power and monumental presence of this superb sculpture. This mask would have been part of funerary offerings for a wealthy or noble personage. Only a master craftsman could have carved this exquisite skull from a block of stone; using simple tools like an artist uses a brush to fashion the delicate curves, the incised details of the teeth and the beautiful jaguars depicting ears or ear ornaments. And only a noble person could have afforded to hire such an expert artist. An object such as this is more than it appears, though it appears with such vivid authority. It is a sort of window or passage into a hidden sphere where we can look into our own psyches, and allow each of us to search for the answer of who we are, where we have come from and where we are going. - (PF.4475)


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