After the Calakmul Mask left Campeche in 2004 to be part of various national and international exhibitions, the piece – made of jade mosaic, shell and gray obsidian – finally returned to the “walled city” to form part of the collection of the Mayan Architecture Museum Baluarte de la Soledad.
The mask is considered one of the most beautiful works of art of Mayan culture, although its main function was not to be a mere ornamental piece, its history goes back to the years 660 and 750 AD. When it was made to be part of the funerary furnishings of a ruler, still unidentified, of the Kaan dynasty.
In the early 1980s, archaeologist William J. Folan discovered it while performing exploratory work on Tomb 1 of Structure VII of the archaeological site of Calakmul.
Since then its beauty has fascinated the whole world.
“This mask is very complex because it has many elements, Not only the face of the ruler itself, which was worked in a naturalistic way, but also the set of symbols made at the time of death of the ruler, “explained Pilar Cuairan Chavarría, curator of the National Museum of Anthropology.
The piece is full of symbolisms, which allow us to take a look at the belief system of the Mayan culture.
The ears of the mask are shaped like two flowers of four petals, a model in which the Maya cosmogony is represented, in addition to being synonymous with the sacred lineage and fecundity.
Underneath the nose and the lips are seen elements made with shell that were placed to simulate the last breath of the sovereign, its open mouth denotes the transition of the ruler to the supernatural world.
In his headdress is represented the place where according to the Mayas, life is reborn. Underneath his chin is a butterfly with wings spread, which represents the soul of the deceased, it is worth remembering that in ancient Mesoamerica, butterflies were the messengers of the sun.