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Mask: Gallery Label - Current


Minneapolis Institute of Arts



Institution Minneapolis Institute of Arts
This mask was created about 3000 years ago, perhaps as a portrait of a leader among the Olmec people of Mesoamerica (present-day southern Mexico). It was likely reserved for ceremonial use or burial. An artist sculpted it from jadeite, then carved lines and highlighted them with a red mineral powder of mercury sulfide (cinnabar). These lines may replicate face paint or tattooing. The rare materials and symbolic designs, like the supernatural human-jaguar whose face hovers above the right eye, reflect the ruler's religious and political power.
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Source: Minneapolis Institute of Arts
Rights: Copyright Minneapolis Institute of Arts
Added to Site: November 21, 2009