SEE MORE PRE-COLUMBIAN ARTIFACTS
This is an EXTREMELY RARE hammered sheet copper mummy death mask from Pre-Columbian South America. It was made by the Moche civilization and features classic anatomy and style that this empire was known for. Objects like this represented the pinnacle of noble class wealth and status. While many of these examples are badly damaged by the ravages of time and corrosion of the copper, this specimen is in stunning preservation and is complete and unusually well-preserved. It was made by hammering the sheet from both sides to create a three-dimensional anatomy. On the outer surface of the mask is a beautiful heavy deposit of malachite minerals, testifying to the authenticity and age of this rare ancient treasure. The inside of the mask is patinated with a layer of copper oxide and other minerals but the lack of the encrustations similar to the outer side, indicate this mask lay face up and the underside was protected from the same moisture that deposited the encrustations on the outer surface.
Since each of these masks were made by hand and no two were alike, each is its own work of art with its own unique personality and presence. Out of the many we have seen in collections and published, this specimen possesses such an aesthetic quality that most lack. The sculpt of the face and its expression are truly spectacular. Another rare feature is that the pupils of the eyes were embellished with tar and that original tar is still perfectly preserved in both eyes. Even the delicate original attachment holes where the mask was sewn onto the mummy (on the outer upper and lower rims) are still intact! A custom steel display stand was made and these holes are utilized to suspend the mask upright for a truly museum-class display!
This hammered copper mask is in its original condition and has only been cleaned and conserved in our lab, to stabilize and preserve the metal. It is in RARE form, complete and with NO REPAIR OR RESTORATION OF ANY KIND. It is 100% ORIGINAL.
The Moche civilization, or the Mochica culture, flourished in northern Peru with its capital near present-day Moche, Trujillo, Peru. They thrived from about 100 to 700 AD during the Regional Development Epoch. Moche society was agriculturally based, with a significant level of investment in the construction of a sophisticated network of irrigation canals for the diversion of river water to supply their crops. The Moche are particularly noted for their elaborately painted ceramics, gold work, monumental constructions (huacas), and irrigation systems.
Both iconography and the finds of human skeletons in ritual contexts seem to indicate that human sacrifice played a significant part in Moche religious practices. These rites appear to have involved the elite as key actors in a spectacle of costumed participants, monumental settings and possibly the ritual consumption of blood. The tumi was a crescent-shaped metal knife used in sacrifices. Excavations in plazas near Moche huacas have found groups of people sacrificed together and the skeletons of young men deliberately excarnated, perhaps for temple displays.
The Moche may have also held and tortured the victims for several weeks before sacrificing them, with the intent of deliberately drawing blood. Some parts of the victims may have been eaten in ritual cannibalism. The sacrifices may have been associated with rites of ancestral renewal and agricultural fertility. Moche iconography features a figure which scholars have nicknamed the "Decapitator"; it is frequently depicted as a spider, but sometimes as a winged creature or a sea monster: together all three features symbolize land, water and air. When the body is included, the figure is usually shown with one arm holding a knife and another holding a severed head by the hair; it has also been depicted as "a human figure with a tiger's mouth and snarling fangs". The "Decapitator" is thought to have figured prominently in the beliefs surrounding the practice of sacrifice.