Mayan and Aztec Masks

Both the Mayans and the Aztecs also had masks they used in traditional ceremonies and some of which are still found in sites today.  For the Aztecs, the masks were mainly for display, not for actual use.  Many were inlaid with precious stones, especially turquoise which was used in a lot of Aztec art.  The shards of turquoise were placed on bases that were made of wood, stone, or sometimes even a real skull. Other decorative items used were obsidian, pyrite, coral and shell.  Archeologists have also found masks with inlaid teeth and eyes.  Mayans commonly used jade to decorate their traditional masks which were sometimes used to adorn the faces of the dead.  While it is not known the significance of the masks on the deceased, there are some scholars who believe that they were either used to scare off potential grave robbers or for ceremonies in the afterlife.  Mayan warriors would also wear masks into battle to channel the ferocity of a certain animal.  There were many other uses for the masks, such as births, weddings, and funerals.  Sadly, most of the lore for the two tribes has been lost over time due to Western influence and the destruction of cultural artifacts by the Spanish.

~Elyce

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