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This mask, which is literally half alive and half dead, worked probably as a metaphor for the Mesoamerican concept of duality, a belief that was at the root of religious thought almost pan-culturally and which basically saw the apparent opposites life-death, day-night, heat-cold as equally essential aspects of a whole cosmos.

Duality mask
Late Classic (600-900 A.D.)
Soyaltepec, State of Oaxaca
37.7 x 32.8 cm.
National Museum of Anthropology, Mexico.

Photo © Jorge Pérez de Lara