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 Museum Explorer

Death in the Americas

Death mask

Height: 11.500 cm

AOA 1910.12-2.5

Death mask

From: Colombia (Quimbaya)
Date: AD 600-1100

This gold mask has teeth that have been filed flat, a nose ornament and big dangling earrings to show that the wearer was an important Quimbaya. The earrings are made of hammered gold to catch the light of the sun. A Quimbaya person who had died would be wrapped in cloth and a mask like this placed over their face, before their body was buried.

The eyes on the mask seem to be closed. This might be to show that the dead person is no longer looking out into the world of the living, but instead looking inside into the spirit world.