Pre-Columbian, Maya, ca. 500 to 600 CE. A very important and sizeable Maya serpentine mask that was collected by world renowned Mexican artist, author, and anthropologist Miguel Covarrubias (1904-1957). Skillfully carved, pecked, and string-cut from serpentine, the mask presents a bold visage with archaic features including bulging oblong eyes with openwork pupils, a protruding triangular nose, parted lips, and incised ear coverings. Note the red cinnabar adorning some of the recessed areas of the mask. There are two perforations at the temples for attachment or suspension, and the verso of the mask has a concave surface. Size: 4.375" W x 4.75" H (11.1 cm x 12.1 cm); 6.7" H (17 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, acquired from Arte Primitivo, New York, New York, USA; ex-Rymar collection, New Mexico, USA, acquired 1970; ex-Bill Pearson, San Francisco, California, USA, acquired from below in 1969; ex-Rosa Covarrubias, Mexico City, Mexico, acquired by descent; ex-Miguel Covarrubias, Mexico City, Mexico, acquired prior to 1957
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Losses to two large sections of verso as shown. Light abrasions to face and peripheries, with fading to red cinnabar decorations. Nice surface smoothness throughout and faint remains of cinnabar within some recessed areas of obverse.