Pre-Columbian, Maya, pre-classic period, ca. 200 BCE to 400 CE. A very important and sizeable Maya green stone mask that was collected by world renowned Mexican artist, author, and anthropologist Miguel Covarrubias (1904-1957). Skillfully carved, pecked, and string-cut from a large greenstone, the mask presents a bold visage with archaic features including recessed ovoid eyes, a protruding nose with delineated nostrils, an open mouth, and incised brows and hairline. Note the red cinnabar adorning the recessed eyes and mouth. There are two perforations at the temples for attachment or suspension, and the verso of the mask has a gently concave surface. This type of mask likely served as a prototype for the famous Maya masks used in royal burials during the classic period. Size: 4.75" W x 6" H (12.1 cm x 15.2 cm); 8" H (20.3 cm) on included custom stand.
The Maya coveted finely carved green stone articles such as this mask, as they were believed to emphasize the elite rank of individuals wearing them. By the time of the Classic period, Maya green stone objects and beads were highly valued. One primary reason for their treasured status was that these green stones were the same color as sprouting maize, and hence represented both earthly life and eternal life of the spirits. Sacred Maya green stone objects were oftentimes passed from generation to generation in addition to being used as grave offerings and placed in sacrificial caches.
Provenance: private Hawaii, USA collection; ex-Arte Primitivo Gallery, New York, New York, USA; ex-private De Chaunac collection; collected by the noted author, artist, and anthropologist Miguel Covarrubias in the 1950s and 1960s
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Losses to peripheries and high-pointed areas as shown. Normal surface wear with nicks/chips/scuffs commensurate with age. Earthen and mineral deposits grace the surface. Collection label on the verso - as well as a stain from a former collection label and some red pigment on the lower end.