The mask hides as much as it reveals, “denies as much as it affirms”, as Claude Lévi-Strauss asserted. Very often the holder of a secret, the mask conceals that which only the initiated should know.
The mask’s power also lies in its capacity to incarnate spirits, a link between man and his ancestors, between the visible and the invisible world. It is inseparable from a mythical context which structures the mode of existence and thought of the majority of traditional societies.
Central to the life of a group or a community, the mask, an indispensable intercessor, is always active.
Funerary mask, Malagana culture, ancient Columbia, Valle region, 100 B.C. – 100 A.D, terra cotta, Gift of Chaffanjon, 71.1891.57.269
This mask arrived in Paris in 1891 and was said to have originally come from Guatavita, one of the sacred lakes of the Muiscas. It is today attributed to the Malagana culture, and only two examples of this type of mask exist throughout the world. It is a funerary mask.