Peru Mouth mask, 200600
Hammered gold, cinnabar
8 x 9 inches
Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Mrs. Paul Wattis Fund, 1992.33
This elaborate mouth mask of thinly hammered sheet
gold was part of the ceremonial costume of a man of high rank
in Nazca society. It was coated in cinnabar, a precious red pigment.
The circular opening in the middle of the mask surrounded the
wearers mouth, and its end sections fit into the septum
to hold it in place. The long feline whiskers end in the heads
of serpents, thus combining two powerful animals in this symbol
of religious association and social rank.