Colima, West Mexico Mask

Colima, West Mexico
Mask 400 BC-200 BC
serpentine
17.2 x 13.5 x 7.5 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased through The Art Foundation of Victoria with the assistance of Colgate-Palmolive Pty Ltd, Fellow, 1982
PC11-1982

In very rare instances elite burials in West Mexico involved stone masks that have been stylistically linked to Colima. These special objects for burial, fashioned out of materials traded over long distances, stand out among the large numbers of ceramic vessels and hollow figures placed in shaft-chamber tombs to accompany the deceased to the afterlife.

 

This mask, originally from the Jay C. Leff collection, displays features that recur in the clay masks of Colima – notably its round shape and eyebrow ridges – but only very few stone masks from Colima are known. The sharpish nose, perforated eyes permitting vision and stylised features suggest that it may be a regional offshoot from the Guerrero-Chontal tradition. The features are stylised into simple geometric forms: the round eyes and rectangular mouth form cavities in the circular face, and the horizontal projecting eyebrow ridge and vertical nose form a dramatic ‘T’ shape which unifies the composition.

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