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HOME : Pre-Columbian Art : Mayan Sculptures : Mayan Sculpture of a Skull
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Mayan Sculpture of a Skull - PF.3600
Origin: Guatemala
Circa: 500 AD to 900 AD
Dimensions: 6.875" (17.5cm) high x 5" (12.7cm) wide
Collection: Pre-Columbian
Medium: Terracotta

Location: United States
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The Maya in their great temple cities reached the summit of classical age in Ancient Mesoamerica. 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 forms, deities, and other symbolic art works. Used in various rituals and ceremonies, their art embodied rich symbolism, laden with complex meanings that largely remain esoteric. A fine example of the magnificent Mayan sculpture, this terracotta sculpture depicts a dramatic image of a skull. Sculpted in beige color similar to the color of the human bone, the skull is fairly realistic. The hollowness of the skull can be seen through the open eye sockets and the sunken eyes accentuate the high cheekbones that cast a gentle shadow. The intricately rendered teeth seem very natural, adding to the realistic feel of the skull portraying the concept of death. Ancient Mayans firmly believed in life, death, rebirth, and afterlife. Even after death, they believed that people experience rebirth following their journey through the underworld. Accepting the natural cycle of human life, the Ancient Mayans were not afraid to confront the concept of death. Incorporated in their daily life and rituals, the idea of life and death are often expressed in various art forms. Possibly used in rituals or created as a ritual offering, this magnificent sculpture grabs our attention in an instant. As we look into the artwork, we are invited to confront the inevitable idea of life and death, and we are reminded of an ancient culture and its images that flourished hundreds of years ago. - (PF.3600)


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