Burial face mask
Paracas culture, Ocucaje, Ica Valley, south coast of Peru
Early Horizon, circa 400-300 BCE
Cotton warp and weft; plain weave painted with unwoven warps, painted tannin dyes
77 x 30 cm
Fowler Museum at UCLA. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Herbert L. Lucas, Jr. X2005.1.1
Source: Elena Phipps, The Peruvian Four-Selvaged Cloth. Ancient Threads / New Directions. Fowler Museum Textile Series, No. 12, Los Angeles, 2013
Three woven selvages plus original uncut warp loops along fourth edge make this face mask complete.
Funerary masks have been found in burials from the Ica Valley, placed on the outside of mummy bundles. Most have designs of faces or figures drawn on the surface of cotton cloths. The figure depeicted here has large eyes and a grinning mouth; it also has a smaller figure contained within its body (similar to that depicted in the Cavernas double-cloth textile), an image that may relate to the concept of regeneration and the afterlife.
This textile is complete with all four selvae edges preserved even though the long legths (warp yarns) may not seem finished. These were intentionally left unwoven so that they could be wound togther and tied as a topknot for this dye-painted burial mask.