Plaster Mask

    This is one of two plaster face masks that were resting on the floor of Room 26 in building 1. Evidently they had been hanging from a ceiling beam, and both had fallen together. When I first discovered the jumbled mass of painted plaster, I called Ware and Blinman to hurry out to the site and untangle the puzzle for me. At first we didn’t know what we were looking at because the top mask had fallen face down on the other, so both were pretty badly broken. Individual fragments of each face were removed one at a time and placed in separate containers. Finally, after all the pieces had been collected, we took them to the Office of Archaeological Studies were Roland and Martha Mace “jug-sawed” the pieces back together. It was an arduous and time consuming task. Although I am sure both masks had been molded three-dimensionally to look like human faces, this one was reconstructed on a small mound of sand that was quite flat. Black mineral paint covers the face, while red paint can be seen around both the inside of the mouth and the outside perimeter of the face. White vertical lines run down from the bottom lip and disappear under the chin, although the chin itself is gray.

    The drawing of this plaster face is a realistic interpretation of what it probably looked like when new. Holes on either side at the hair line that are 10 inches apart may have been used to attach the object to someone’s head or to a carrying staff since the goggle eyes are solid and cannot be seen through. Nothing like this has been seen before in the Southwest!

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