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HOME : Near Eastern Art : Archive : Stone Skull Mask
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Stone Skull Mask - PF.3165
Origin: Costa Rica (Guanacaste)
Circa: 1 AD to 500 AD
Dimensions: 8" (20.3cm) high x 6.75" (17.1cm) wide
Catalogue: V15
Collection: Pre-Columbian
Medium: Stone

Additional Information: SOLD

Location: United States
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The artist who created this fascinating skull stone mask was not only an exceptional lapidary artist; he was also very perceptive in the type of stone he chose for the mask. It is a rare stone that is similar to human skulls. Notice the vein formation and color. It has a remarkable realistic human resemblance. The artist may have gone through many quarries to find this special stone for a very special person. This person most probably desired this mask to represent the death deity for ritual performances. In general, the Meso-Americans believed the universe embraced the heavens and underworld as one. There was no separation between the terrestrial world and the supernatural world. Everyday experience incorporated these two worlds together; it was an ordinary aspect of their reality. Thus, the world of the dead was closely integrated into the world of the living. Deceased ancestors were believed to have powerful influences upon the living. Major festivals honored the dead. The person who adorned this mask during rituals most probably acted as the death deity. By appeasing the death deity through ritual, the Ancient Costa Ricans may have felt that their ancestors would be safe in the Underworld and have favorable influences upon the living. Or perhaps the death deity acted as an intermediary for the humans to communicate with the deceased. Due to their perception of the unity of the terrestrial, supernatural worlds and the Underworld as one, we can only imagine that this mask and the ritual performances in honor of the death deity had good intentions for all: the gods, humans and the dead. - (PF.3165)


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