funerary mask, Chancay
Chancay culture, Peru, 1300-1500 AD
Wood, textile, string, feathers, shell, pigments, resin
Height : 41,5 cm
Provenance : Ex. Jay C. Le collection, Uniontown, Pennsylvania Sotheby’s Parke Bernet, 31 May 1975
Private collection, New York (acquired from above sale)
Exhibition : Exotic Art from Ancient and Primitive Civilizations – Collection of Jay C. Leff, Carnegie Institute, Pittsburg, 15 Oct. 1959 - 3 Jan. 1960, n° 706
Ancient Art of Latin America, from the Collection of Jay C. Leff
Brooklyn Museum, 22 Nov. 1966 - 5 March 1967, n° 529
Publication : "Masken"
(M. Doustar, 2015), n°53
The Chancay civilization developed on the central coast of Peru, in the later part of the Inca Empire, from about 1000 to 1470 AD.
The most well-known Chancay artefacts are the textiles which ranged from embroidered pieces to different types of fabrics decorated with paint, and the wood carvings, characterized by their simplicity, sobriety and use of shapes from nature. Human heads and masks were the most common wooden objects. They were used to crown the mummies of important dignitaries, as a mark of their status as deity or mythical ancestor, which they acquired after death.
This large and highly abstracted example has a prominent arched nose, and inset clam shell eyes. The mouth is suggested by a slight incision, while the forehead is covered by an imposing headgear made of a woven textile having a tan geometric pattern, with a central decorative element of white chicken feathers attached to braided strings. The muted expression on the flat geometrical face is an image of startling modernity, reminiscent of the best creations of Paul Klee or Alexei Jawlensky.
Price : on request