Olmec Stone Mask - CK.0052, Origin: Mesoamerica, Circa: 900 BC to 500 BC. Dimensions: 5.5" (14.0cm) high x 5.125" (13.0cm) wide, Collection: Pre-Columbian. Style: Olmec. Medium: Stone. This beautiful dark green stone mask was made by a master carver of the Olmec people, towards the beginning of the first millennium AD. Depicting an open-mouthed male with hollow eyes and stylised features, masks such as this were probably never worn, and were instead used as votive objects, serving a ritual purpose within the society, and perhaps also an apotropaic or funerary role. The mask is very highly-finished. The proportions are angular, with a straight superior border, a rounded jawline and almost vertical sides to the face. The narrow eyes arch gently downwards at the sides, the nose has shallow hollowed-out nostrils, and the mouth is arranged in the classical manner with the upper lip deflected backwards – exposing the upper teeth – in what is usually known as a “baby-faced” configuration. This may be a therianthropic device; Olmec were-jaguars are a fuller expression of the same notion. The mask has angular ears with elevated rims and pierced lobes, and there are piercings at the top perimeter of the mask. The care to detail is impressive, but the manner in which the disparate naturalistic and expressionistic elements have been combined with bold lines and flawless finish makes this a truly remarkable piece of ancient art.