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Museum purchase, Mrs. Paul Wattis Fund
Sacred Symbols: Musee Fabre de Monpelier 7/02-fall 02; Musee des Breaux -Arts de Rouen fall 02-winter02; Musee des Beaux-Arts de Lyon 1/03-8/03; Musee des Beaux-Arts in Rennes spring 03-fall 03; MIA 10/03-2/04.
Splendid mouthmasks or face ornaments of hammered gold were worn by Nazca nobility both during their lifetime and in burial. Such masks were actually worn encircling the mouth and eyes with the central strands fitting ingo the septum. The bottom portion covers the chin and lower face, with radiating serpent-like forms that cover the cheeks and surround the eyes.
One of the remarkable features of this particular mouth mask is the ritual remains of reddish cinnabar, a sacred color that would have been applied ceremonially at burial. The cinnabar, together with the smolke used from incense, has created a waxy surface coating that remains on this mask after 1,500 years.