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Serge Schoffel Art Premier

Effigy mask

Sultepec culture, Mexico
Late Preclassic, 300 - 100 B.C.
White stone
​H. 15,5 cm

This mask features the characteristics of most of the rare Sultepec masks: an aquiline nose, as well as carved hollow eyes that possibly hosted shell inclusions to form the pupil and iris. Only 25 of these masks are known (cf. Barbier-Mueller Collection, Mesoamerica, Vol. 1, 2013. Publish. 5 Continents, Sotheby’s, Barbier-Mueller, p. 105).

The white stone in which this mask is carved gives it a remarkable quality of translucency to light. The few Sultepec masks recorded are all made from a rather similar stone, whether it is marble, tecali, calcite or alabaster. This one seems to be carved in a semi-precious stone, probably alabaster.

It is believed that these masks, too small to be worn and of which eyes are not pierced, should be pectorals or funerary masks for Sultepec aristocrats

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