Pocket guide to Aztec and Mayan gods, £6.99
Height: 19.000 cm
Width: 16.500 cm
Gift of the Christy Trustees
Room 27: Mexico
Black limestone mask
Teotihuacan style (150 BC - AD
From Santiago Ahuizotla, Mexico State, Mexico
This stone mask, found in the Basin of Mexico, displays a wide forehead and stylized planar features typical of the Teotihuacan style. Designs are carved on the cheeks, representing facial painting and it was perhaps originally inlaid with shell or other materials. Most similar masks are plain and only a few have remnants of pigment or engraved decoration on cheeks and ears.
Different types of stone, such as granite, calcite, serpentine and alabaster, were used to carve Teotihuacan-style masks in varying sizes and proportions. Other regional variations also occur and are widely distributed across Mesoamerica.
Several artefacts from Teotihuacan, including masks, were found at the Templo Mayor of Tenochtitlan, the Aztec capital. Such objects were probably brought to the capital from different regions as tribute following warfare and conquest.
Most masks are heavy and could not have been worn; moreover, the eyes are not pierced. They are believed to be funerary masks, although none have been found in a scientifically excavated burial. They were probably set on a wooden frame and then dressed with elaborate costumes to embody deified ancestors and gods.
W. Bray and L. Manzanilla (eds.), The archaeology of Mesoamerica (London, The British Museum Press, 1999)
K. Berrin and E. Pasztory (eds.), Teotihuacan: art from the city (Thames and Hudson, 1993)
C. McEwan, Ancient Mexico in the British (London, The British Museum Press, 1994)
E. Pasztory, Teotihuacan: an experiment in (Norman, University of Oklahoma Press, 1997)