The Chinese jade funerary mask displayed is a reproduction of a mask that was part of a jade burial suit. Made from pieces of jade sewn together with a silver thread, the original mask was discovered in Jiangsu province, China.
Mask A: Chinese funerary mask reproduction, collected in Beijing, 1996 (the original dated Eastern Tan Dynasty AD 25-220).
Like the ancient Egyptians, the mummies of royalty and high-ranking officials in early Mayan, Aztec, and Inca cultures wore golden funerary masks. The masks of lesser personages were made of wood or clay. Large masks served mostly as death masks; the smaller pieces probably served as jewellery.
The Mixtec-Aztec mask of turquoise mosaic depicts the plumed serpent and was placed on the face of a high-ranking priest or official.
The practice of celebrating Day of the Dead dates from the Aztecs and other Meso-American civilizations, which used skulls to symbolize death and rebirth as well as to honour the dead. Day of the Dead masks range from elaborate and expensive pieces of art to a child’s craft project.
The celebration of Day of the Dead takes place on November 1 and November 2 in connection with the Catholic holidays of All Saints’ Day (November 1) and All Souls’ Day (November 2).
Papier mâché skeleton masks, like those here, are sold on the streets throughout Latin America for Day of the Dead celebrations and parades (Day of the Dead skeleton mask collected Oaxaca, Mexico, 1980s).
Parade of Lost Souls is an annual parade held in Vancouver, British Columbia. This parade is inspired by All Souls’ Day celebrations and created by the community organization known as the Public Dreams Society. Mask-making workshops organized by Vancouver’s Public Dreams Society result in diverse, creative, entertaining, and provocative masks that are integrated into parades and special events.