- Museum number
Carved greenstone mask with cleft head.
- Production date
Height: 24 centimetres
Width: 26 centimetres
- Curator's comments
A large number of impressive stone masks were produced at Teotihuacan. Although long believed to be funerary masks, none have actually been found in a scientifically excavated burial. Only a handful of stone masks have been found by archaeologists in excavations. They were not placed in tombs but have been found among the public and religious buildings that border the Street of the Dead, a ritual avenue that traversed the city from north to south.
Masks in the Teotihuacan style have been a prized item for European and American collectors since the nineteenth century and many have been faked to supply this lucrative market.
The abstract, schematic expression and planar geometry of this large mask are typical of the Teotihuacan style. Holes were drilled in the eyes, mouth, ears and sides. The eyes and mouth were probably inlaid with shell, obsidian and/or iron pyrites. Earspools, made of perishable material, may have been originally set in the pierced ears. The cleft head recalls that found on some Olmec objects, such as votive axes.
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)
Text from Masks like this were sculpted in material carefully selected for their visual qualities and symbolic value. The eyes and mouth would originally have been inlaid with shell. They are sometimes described as funerary masks or may perhaps have been mounted on a wooden armature and dressed with elaborate costumes to embody deified ancestors and gods.
- On display (G27/dc4)
- Acquisition notes
- Acquisition details not known.
- Africa, Oceania and the Americas
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
Miscellaneous number: AOA Q94.Am1 (Compass number)