Pre-Columbian, Southern Mexico to Guatemala, Olmec, ca. 1000 to 400 BCE. A mesmerizing maskette carved from a beautiful greenstone with white inclusions created by the Olmec, the oldest major civilization in Mexico, expertly worked with graceful, subtle contours and signature Olmec traits including a jowly face, downturned jaguar mouth, and slanted eyes. The forehead appears artificially shaped, a sign of high status due to cranial deformation, as the Olmec traditionally wore tight-fitting helmets. Size: 1.875" W x 1.625" H (4.8 cm x 4.1 cm); 5.125" H (13 cm) stand
The attention to detail on this piece is quite impressive. Note the pierced ears (presumably for suspending ornaments), the expressive lips and cleft palette of the jaguar mouth, the full nose with pierced nostrils, and the stylized elliptical-shaped eyes. To the Olmecs, masks and maskettes like this example carried many meanings, not all of which are obvious to us today; however, scholars surmise that the color green was associated with vibrant growth, renewal, and given the cyclical conception of life and death, rejuvenation after death.
Provenance: Ex-private Alan Davis collection, Santa Fe, NM
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