This mask is an extremely rare piece, miraculously saved by the desert climate of the Peruvian coast which has preserved it underground for centuries. It is the work of the Chancay culture which developed on the central coast between 1100 and 1500 AD, after the collapse of the Huari civilization (550-900 AD). Its exceptional state of conservation, its great size, its inlays of white shell, and its history itself, make of it a captivating work, attesting to the attraction of the ancient Peruvians for the wood, with which they realized quantities of precious objects.
It is a mask with human features placed above a bundle containing the mummy of a deceased person. The embalming of the remains was widespread in the pre-Hispanic Andean cultures. The oldest traces of this ancestral custom were found, not in Egypt, but thousands of years earlier, in South America, on the border of Peru and Chile, among the Chinchorros, from the 7th to the 2nd millennium BC.
Sculpted with care, this piece respects the codes of representation of the Peruvian fardo masks. Its geometric face, covered with important traces of red paint, is inscribed in a quadrangular form and the physiognomic details are reduced to the essential, without naturalistic intention. The superciliary arches merge with the prominent and rounded forehead. Underneath, large elliptical eyes encrusted with white shells are in strong relief.