The Jade Masks of the Mayas in Paris

From January 26, 2012 to June 26, 2012
  • Récipient et couvercle à décor polychrome, Musée Fuerte de San Miguel, Campeche, 375-450 apr. J.-C

    Récipient et couvercle à décor polychrome, Musée Fuerte de San Miguel, Campeche, 375-450 apr. J.-C

    © Photo : Martirene Alcántara / INAH

The Jade Masks of the Mayas in Paris 75 Paris fr

The Pinacothèque continues its exploration of Pre-Columbian and Meso-American cultures

Following the success of the exhibition The Incas’s Gold: Origins and Mysteries, the Pinacothèque de Paris is showing the most important archeological discovery of the past decade in Mexico: masks made of jade mosaic. These outstanding masks, entirely restored by the most eminent specialists in Mayan archeology, represent the deities’ faces. Created for the governors of the most prestigious lost Mayan cities, they had the mission to ensure eternal life to these dignitaries after their death.

So far, about fifteen masks have been found, most of which are on display at the Pinacothèque de Paris. This extremely rare ensemble, which Mexico has exceptionally agreed to show outside its frontiers,  shall be exhibited alongside about one hundred works which are leaving Mexico for the very first time. Thus, the Pinacothèque is offering an immersion into the sophisticated and mysterious cosmogony of that millennial culture.

The Mayas had a particular fondness for the color green. For them, jade was the rarest and most precious metal. For the Incas, on the other hand, gold was the divine metal above all. As an appendage of the  elite, the green stone was also linked to sacred matters. In a surprising way, the Mayas used these stones to represent one of their main divinities, K’awiil, god of maize, thanks to whom the sovereign became  immortal. The Mayan artists made masks from fragments of green stones with great virtuosity. They adapted the size and color of the fragments in order to reach a greater naturalism.

Duration

From January 26 to June 10, 2012

Things to see

Point of interest