Pre-Columbian, northwest Argentina, Early Period, Condorhuasi-Alamito culture, ca. 200 BCE to 500 CE. A haunting, lifesize, anthropomorphic mask, hand-carved from a heavy, grey, volcanic stone. The mask is dominated by a pronounced brow ridge, a rectangular nose, and drilled holes for eyes and mouth. The mouth has a gentle ridge around it, forming puckered lips. The back of the mask is gently concave. Further drilled holes line the upper edges of the mask, perhaps for attaching decorative materials like feathers or gold. Size: 8.25" W x 9.7" H (21 cm x 24.6 cm); 13.5" H (34.3 cm) on included custom stand.
This culture is from the Hualfin Valley in the Catamarca province of Argentina, although it seems to have had cultural influence or at least trading connections both north and south. The landscape was semi-arid and high altitude, similar to that of the American Southwest. The people of the region were llama pastoralists who created artwork in ceramic, metal, and stone, often with repeated themes - for example, masks made of lapis lazuli and copper have been found that look nearly identical in form to this one. Masks like this one were deposited into graves that were buried in the patios or inside the rooms of small houses in villages or, in some areas of the Hualfin Valley, segregated cemeteries. They seem to represent idealized images of the deceased.
See a very similar artifact at the Metropolitan Museum of Art: https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/708743
Provenance: private Hawaii, USA collection; ex T. Misenhimer, Hollywood Film Producer, collection, Los Angeles, California, USA
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Weathering on stone surface. What may be a small, ancient loss or possibly just part of the shape of the rock at the top of the head.