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HOME : PRE COLUMBIAN ART : Pre-Columbian Art Collection/ HK : Mayan Stone Mask
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Mayan Stone Mask - PF.4753
Origin: Guatemala
Circa: 500 AD to 900 AD
Dimensions: 7" (17.8cm) high
Collection: Pre-Columbian
Style: Mayan
Medium: Stone

Additional Information: HK

Location: Great Britain
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The afterlife and the spirits who roamed its nether regions were very real to the Maya. They believed the non-physical world could affect the physical, and in order to communicate between the two realms a transformation process was necessary. Masks were an important element in this transformation, acting as a 'medium' between the person wearing the mask and the spirit who would 'become' the mask during ritual ceremonies. Disguise was another function of the mask by hiding the wearer's identity after death to confuse unwanted spirits, or attract benevolent ones. This extraordinary and rare mask appears to be two things at once-- a cover for the face of the deceased, or perhaps hung on an effigy; and a representation of someone as an actual portrait. The mask's expression seems as if it is seeing wonders beyond our normal awareness. The tight fitting cap that curves around the forehead may have been like those actually worn by certain individuals. A mosaic mask of a Maya nobleman was found in Tikal wearing a turtle headdress with a similar beak protrusion. The turtle was associated with aspects of the solar system, and may have been directly connected with shaman/priests who studied the stars and planets as part of their divination practices. Though much of Maya art is understood, there are still objects that continue to mystify and intrigue us. This mysterious mask is just such an object; a gift from the past more awe-inspiring than when it was carved hundreds of years ago. - (PF.4753)


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