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HOME : Pre-Columbian Art : Mayan Art : Mayan Terracotta Mask
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Mayan Terracotta Mask - PF.3468
Origin: Guatemala
Circa: 500 AD to 900 AD
Dimensions: 4.25" (10.8cm) high
Collection: Pre-Columbian
Medium: Terracotta

Location: United States
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The summit of the classical age in Ancient Mesoamerica was reached by the Maya in their great temple cities. In those temple cities, great artistic expressions such as murals and sculptures flourished. It is during this classical period in which artists refined their skills to represent the human form and representations of their gods. Mayan figures very well depict the distinct Mayan physical characteristics such as the high cheekbones, fleshy and hooked nose, heavy lidded eyes, and fleshy lips. This remarkably sculpted Mayan mask displays such attributes. The exquisite mask is a depiction of a man's face, possibly a representation of a priest or a deity wearing large earspools. The high cheekbones accentuate the depth of the heavy lidded eyes, and the slightly curving hooked nose creates a perfect symmetry of the face. The fleshy mouth is open to reveal the indication of the teeth or the tongue. Skillfully carved, the artist managed to portray a realistic face-the sculpture's furrowed eyebrows and slightly curled upper lip evoke strong character and dramatic emotion to life. Small in scale, this mask was probably used in rituals/ceremonies or was worn as a pectoral or a bodily adornment. As we look into the mask, we are amazed to see how the artist captured such exquisite beauty and emotion in a small mask. Whether the mask represent a deity or a respected dignitary in the Mayan society, his poignant essence comes through strongly just as it did more than a thousand years ago. - (PF.3468)


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