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Teotihuacan, Early Classic
0-600 CE
25.08 cm x 25.4 cm x 14.61 cm (9 7/8 in. x 10 in. x 5 3/4 in.)
Black limestone

Not on view


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This is a classic example of the Teotihuacan Classic art form. Its proportions are balanced and elegant; its features conform to established standards. A band along the top of the forehead is etched by a linear incision parallel to the top of the mask. The ears have been drilled through, and drilling also is present at the sides and top, where the hole extends from the upper edge of the mask to the back, not through the forehead. The back has been finished flat and is slightly concave. Cavities drilled into the corners of the eyes and mouth are of the same size, and the insets that would have enlivened the eyes and mouth are missing. The underside of the nose is flat. The mask’s color, once the black of its stone, has aged to a soft gray.

Benson, Elizabeth P. 1963 Handbook of the Robert Woods Bliss Collection of Pre-Columbian Art. Dumbarton Oaks, Trustees for Harvard University, Washington, D.C., p. 1, cat. 1, pl. 1.

Bliss, Robert Woods 1947 Indigenous Art of the Americas: Collection of Robert Woods Bliss. National Gallery of Art, Smithsonian institution, Washington, D.C., p. 25, 122, cat. 120.

Bliss, Robert Woods 1957 Pre-Columbian Art: The Robert Woods Bliss Collection. Text and Critical Analyses by S. K. Lothrop, Joy Mahler and William F. Foshag. Phaidon, New York. p. 238, cat. 34, pl. XXVII, fig. 12.

Davies, Nigel 1983 The Ancient Kingdoms of Mexico. Pelican Books. Penguin Books, New York. pl. 11.

Grey, Michael 1978 Pre-Columbian Art. Thames and Hudson, London. pl. 5.

History, Natural 1958 A Collection of Pre-Columbian Fine Art. Natural History 67 (3):128-129. p. 128-129.

Ries, Maurice Ruddell (ED.) 1942 Ancient American Art, 500 B.C.-A.D. 1500; the Catalog of an Exhibit of the Art of the Pre-European Americas, April-June 1942, Santa Barbara Museum of Art. Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Santa Barbara, C.A., cat. 154.

Willey, Gordon R. 1966 An Introduction to American Archaeology. Prentice-Hall Anthropology Series. Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, N.J.,. p. 115, fig. 3.51.

Exhibition History
Ancient American Art, Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Santa Barbara, Calif., April–June 1942; M. H. de Young Memorial Museum, San Francisco, July–August 1942; Museum of Art, Portland, Ore., September–October 1942.

Indigenous Art of the Americas, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., April 1947–July 1949, February 1954–July 1962.

Acquisition History
Purchased from William Spratling, New York, by Robert Woods Bliss, 1940.

Robert Woods Bliss Collection of Pre-Columbian Art, Washington, DC, 1940-1962.

Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Pre-Columbian Collection, Washington, DC.

Anthropomorphic | Masks | Teotihuacan