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Lot 61A: Miniature Olmec Jadeite Maskette
27 October 2016
Louisville, CO, USALive Auction
Pre-Columbian, Mexico, Olmec culture, ca. 10th to 6th century BCE. This is a beautiful miniature jadeite mask with a finely detailed, long, straight nose, narrowed eyes with drilled pupils, and a flat mouth with drilled corners. The piece was made by string cutting, drilling, and using sandstone as an abrasive, all remarkable achievements, given that jadeite is an incredibly hard stone to work. Olmec artisans also had to use long distance trade routes to acquire the material, bringing jadeite from Eastern Guatemala, over three hundred miles from their homeland. All of this speaks to their great value in society. There are two drilled holes in the top of this maskette that indicate that it was worn as decoration. The face may represent a god or an idealized example of the perfect face; the earliest portrayals of the maize god in Maya art copy the faces common to Olmec masks and maskettes. Olmec maskettes remain treasured items today, and similar pieces are found at the Princeton University Art Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Size: 2" W x 2.2" H (5.1 cm x 5.6 cm)
Provenance: Ex-collection Samel Dubiner, Tel Aviv, Israel, acquired 1950's.
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Condition Report: Expected wear and very slight chipping, but overall excellent condition, with very clear features.