South America

PreColumbian clay mask, maybe

Q:  I was recently in Argentina over the holidays and I purchased this mask at a flea market in Buenos Aires. It is about 7 x 6 in and seems to be made from clay. I bought it for about $70. The guy I bought it from said that his “friend” found it in Peru and brought it back. His friend found it in pieces and tried to repair it with the white parts. I have no idea if I got a unique mask or not and I’m hoping that you are able to help me identify it.   Alex, 1086

A:  It does not look Peruvian to me. I have seen a few carved stone masks that come from Argentina’s preColumbian past that are similar in design. Look for artifacts attributed to the Condorhuasi in the north and to the Tehuelche in the south of Argentina. A few of the indigenous people still exist in remote regions, but not many. These ancient people also made pottery. Of course, fake antiquities are easy to make out of clay.  Maybe someone with an interest in preColumbian artifacts can help identify this piece.


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