MASKED FIGURE WITH BIRD HEADDRESS

 

MASKED FIGURE WITH BIRD HEADDRESS

Mexico, Veracruz, Nopiloa
600 – 900 AD
Terracotta
Height: 6 ¾ inches
Provenance: David Campbell Collection, USA, 1996

 

This exquisite masked figure is modelled of fine white or pale cream terracotta, a clay typical to the Veracruz site of Nopiloa. The fine material yields figurines of unusually light weight and delicacy.

The male figure is dressed in an impressive outfit with his human face is concealed by an elaborate removable helmet-mask. He stands upright with arms stretched out to either side, displaying the details of his calf-length tunic in full. Loose and square, the tunic is decorated with crosses that have been cut out of the tunic and then used as an applique. The bottom hem is patterned with alternating squares. On the figure’s upper back a large feather fan radiates outward. Around the figure’s neck is a tubular, yoke-like necklace, and each wrist is encircled by bracelets. Beneath the tunic the figure’s thick pants end above a pair of large boots. The toe of each boot ends in a large bead.

The headdress worn by the figure represents a supernatural. It is helmet-like with eye openings and has a projecting, twisted beak, disk earspools, and an upright feather plume. Progressing from the plume to the top and sides of the mask are delicately placed feathers. Behind the mask lies a serene face with closed eyes.

Other pieces made using the same clay type and artistic style from the region are known, likely made by the same artisan.