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HOME : PRE COLUMBIAN ART : Pre-Columbian Art Collection/ HK : Olmec Stone Mask
Olmec Stone Mask - PF.4301
Origin: Mexico
Circa: 900 BC to 600 BC
Dimensions: 6.5" (16.5cm) high
Collection: Pre-Columbian Art
Style: Olmec

Additional Information: Hong Kong

Location: UAE
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Stone mask in the form of a wide, male face with bulbous nose between wide-set eyes (missing inlay); puffy eyelids and thick lips with circular cleft at either side of lower lip; traces of incised glyphs over whole; incised holes for attachment. The Olmec civilisation was the first major civilisation of ancient Mesoamerica, located in present day Veracruz and Tabasco, Mexico and spanned from 1200-400 BC. The arresting physiognomy displays similar characteristics to the seventeen colossal heads found across four archaeological sites that form an integral part of the Olmec artistic legacy. The thick upper lip and attentive treatment of the supple flesh seen here and on other contemporary masks epitomizes Olmec notions of beauty. It is difficult to ascertain the function of Olmec masks given extant examples were found across a wide geographical area. It seems unlikely they were worn by the living given the lack of eye and nose holes. The attachments holes to the temples suggest, more likely, it might have been used as part of a costume, an adornment in sculpture or part of a mummy bundle. Interestingly, the surface of the stone tells us something about sculptural techniques during the Middle Formative period – 1000-500 BC. Marks of drilling and irregular scratching indicate the mask was carved using only stone abrasives, leather and friction. An interesting piece that presents an aesthetic quite different to our western perspective and continues to inspire many modern Mexican artists. - (PF.4301) - (PF.4301)


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