human face with long ears; open mouth with teeth; red linear designs

Mask, c. 900-300 BCE


Jadeite, cinnabarexpand_more

The John R. Van Derlip Fundexpand_more  2002.127

The Olmec are the first known civilization in Mesoamerica (which roughly spanned from present-day Mexico to El Salvador), based in what is now the southern part of Mexico. They made sophisticated sculptures using jadeite, a greenstone that is as rare and precious as it is difficult to carve. This mask probably alludes to an Olmec leader. It combines human features with the almond-shaped eyes and downturned lips that the Olmec used to evoke the jaguar, an animal revered by all the civilizations of the ancient Americas for its strength, agility, and reputation as a stealthy predator.

Accession Number
Curator Approved

This record is from historic documentation and may not have been reviewed by a curator, so may be inaccurate or incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. If you notice a mistake or have additional information about this object, please email

Does something look wrong with this image? Let us know

Zoom in on the left to the detail you'd like to save. Click 'Save detail' and wait until the image updates. Right click the image to 'save image as' or copy link, or click the image to open in a new tab.

human face with long ears; open mouth with teeth; red linear designs