Lapidary analysis of Pakal's mask reveals a funeral piece
composed of more than 300 tiles of albite, albite-kosmochlor,
jadeite-albite, and veined quartz.
These characteristics were assayed with non-destructive techniques
such as X-ray diffraction (XRD), petrography, scanning electron
microscope analysis (SEM-EDS) and infrared spectroscopy (IR).
Outstanding in the cultural area known as Mesoamerica is
the use of mask in funerals. The masks which were important
objects as a part of the funeral furniture of kings and high
ranking people. Because of this tradition, the most beautiful
mosaic masks were made with tessellae of different kinds of
blue-green minerals and rocks, such as jadestone, turquoise,
amazonite, malachite, travertine, diorite, serpentinite, etc.
The Pacal Mask is a surpassing piece of the great mortuary
furniture. Pacal was the most famous king from Palenque, which
is an important ancient Mayan city located in Chiapas state
in southeast Mexico. This mask was elaborated with more than
300 tiles mounted on a wood and paster base, and has diverse
green shades moving to white, and is between 2 millimeters
to 7 centimeters long.
It has been established that the raw material of several
Mayan masks possibly comes from the Motagua River Valley in
Guatemala where jadeite, albite and associated rock deposits
are found (Foshag 1955, 1957; Harlow 1993, 1994). In the case
of the amazonite, its provenance is not yet well-established,
but it is now known that a deposit is located in Chihuahua
State, in northern Mexico (Sanchez-Hernandez et al., 2002).
Turquoise deposits are widely distributed, mainly in the southwest
and south of the USA, and there are also some minor deposits
in northern Mexico.
Ref.: Mineralogical Characterization and Raw Materials Provenance
of Some Archaeological Masks from Mexico. J.Robles-Camacho
& R.Sánchez-Hernández National Institute of Anthropology and
History, Laboratories and Academic Support. Mexico. Applied
Mineralogy, Pecchio et al. (eds) 2004 ICAM-BR, Săo Paulo,
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