Home > Art > Olmec Mask (Rio Pesquero Style) with Open Eyes and Indicated Teeth
About the Object
The naturalistic human facial features of this Olmec face mask, with deep-cut and drilled-out eyes, nose, nostrils, and ears, and an open mouth baring teeth, were carved and polished from brown jade. Drill holes indicate that this may have been worn during rituals by a political-religious leader and attached with straps made from animal or plant materials.
The Olmec, originating along the Gulf of Mexico and among the earliest civilizations in the pre-colonial Americas, created a unique culture that later societies in the area would emulate in the form of political and religious imagery and ideas. Face masks such as this skillfully worked piece also became the inspiration for similar works by the later Maya, Mixtec, and Mexica (Aztecs or Triple Alliance).
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