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Currently shown

Mask

Location

MEXICO, CENTRAL HIGHLANDS

Era

Early Classic Period (200-600 C.E.)

Culture

Teotihuacan

Title

Mask

Date

300-600 C.E.

Materials

Stone

Dimensions

23 x 25.5 x 12.5 cm

Credits

Purchase, gift of Miss Mabel Molson, inv. 1936.Ac.1

Collection

Archeology and World Cultures

Acquired in 1936, this mask was one of the first pre-Columbian objects to enter the Museum’s collection. Its original context is unknown, but its shape is characteristic of Teotihuacan art. The city of Teotihuacan’s influence was demonstrated through, among other things, a standardization of the depiction of faces, as if human variability was concealed under a uniform social mask. The specific function of stone masks is difficult to determine, since very few of them have been found in context. An initial hypothesis proposes that such masks adorned a funerary fardo or bundle, the half-open mouth then alluding to the deceased speaking. A second suggests that they were instead positioned as the central piece of a ritual structure, like the earthenware masks of “theatre”-type incense burners.

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