Pre-Columbian, Southern Mexico to Guatemala, Olmec, ca. 1100 to 500 BCE. A mesmerizing maskette carved from a beautiful jadeite of rich emerald and seafoam green hues 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 were-jaguar mouth punctuated by three partially pierced motifs, and slanted eyes with partially pierced pupils. The inverted trapezoid shape of the head contributes to the wild feline nature of the visage. Double perforations were drilled on each side of the face for suspension or attachment. Size: 1.25" W x 1.25" H (3.2 cm x 3.2 cm); 2.25" H (5.7 cm) on included custom stand.
The attention to detail on this piece is quite impressive. Note the expressive lips and cleft palette of the jaguar mouth, the full nose with partially drilled nostrils, the stylized elliptical-shaped eyes with partially drilled pupils, and the partially drilled circular motifs at the corners of the mouth and under the lower lip. 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: private Southern California, USA collection, acquired in the 1970s to mid-1980s
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