TEOTIHUACAN - Mexico
H : 18 cm – W : 18.7 cm – D : 9.6 cm
Green-black serpentine with brown patina
This magnificent mask is an excellent example of the very refined style of Teotihuacán, a cosmopolitan metropolis and the largest pre-Hispanic religious center between the 1st and 7th centuries AD. The beauty and the intensity of its polished stone, a green-black serpentine as pleasant to the eye as to the touch, the accuracy of the treaty and the deep expression that inhabits it, make it an admirable piece and suggests a dating in the classical period around 450 AD. It is a testimony of the dexterity of the craftsmen who populated the great ceremonial site, and of course of their immense devotion, without which these sumptuous faces, extolling youth and serenity, could not have taken shape with a such aura.
The sunken eyes, as well as the mouth, were originally intended to accommodate inlays of mother-of-pearl, obsidian or pyrite intended to animate and embellish the being represented. The pierced nostrils and the open mouth are symbolically important elements. They were to allow the soul, embodied by the mask, to breathe and continue its journey into the afterlife. The volume that the sculptor voluntarily gave them and the care taken in their realization testifies to this. The ears, represented by two rectangular protuberances, have the lobes pierced to allow the wearing of ornaments. The top of the mask is straight and its back is hollowed out. Hanging holes were made on the sides, above and below each ear. These probably made it possible to attach this impressive mask to a wooden mannequin, installed in a niche within a place of worship.