MASK REPRESENTING A HUMAN FACE

TEOTIHUACAN – Mexico

450 – 750 A.D.

  • Height : 14.4 cm
  • Length : 13.6 cm
  • Width : 6.5 cm

Speckled green serpentine.

Mask representing a human face.

The mouth is wide open and the sensual lips are carefully drawn. The nose is straight, its bridge is strongly marked, its nostrils are perforated and its wings are in relief. The almond-shaped eyes are hollowed-out. The fine arches of the eyebrows are in relief; they form a curved line and merge with the receding forehead. The rectilinear ears are salient and the lobes are pierced. The top of the head is flat and a notch is carved in the middle back of the skull. Four attachment holes were made to allow this mask to be fixed or hung up: above each ear, as well as behind the middle of each of them.

This mask is exceptional with the fineness of its features and the quality of its execution. This face presents an amazing expressivity due to his intense look and his wide-open mouth that expresses the vital breath. Moreover, the eyes and mouth are deeply hollowed-out and were probably originally inlaid with shell, pyrite or another stone. Last but not least, the serpentine, with its bright green color and its smooth, polished surface, highlights the beauty of this sculpture.

This mask, with its pentagonal form, its transcendental look and its sensual mouth, symbolizes this idealization of the Teotihuacan civilization, of which the peak is set between 450 and 750 A.D. This civilization owes its name to the famous archaeological site of Teotihuacan, literally meaning “The birthplace of the gods”. Of agrarian origin, it managed to impose its hegemony throughout Mesoamerica by increasing its influence in political, religious and artistic fields. Concerning art, two types of creations are characteristic of its peak: the building of big architectural complexes and the creation of masks made of stone, just like the one we present here. These masks, most of them of human size, have suspension holes in order to be fixed on wooden statues then used for ritual ceremonies. Most of them were found in votive hidden places near or inside religious buildings. Theyreflect theperfection’s desire and permanence in a society where the divine is omnipresent.

ProvenanceAncient European Collection since 1970.