Chac, being the rain god, was closely associated with life and creation. As one might expect, Chac was the all-important deity for the ordinary Maya farmers in particular, whose primary concern was the well-bring of their maize fields.
Chac is presented in the codices with a reptilian face, 2 downwards-facing fangs coming out of his mouth, and a long (usually down-curling) snout. Throughout the Maya area today, the mask panels with this signature long, curled nose, probably represent the head of Chac. Often the nose will be broken off, but the example shown above from Chichen Itza is one typical, and well-preserved example.
Chac had 4 principal aspects. Each of these were associated with a colour and linked to a particular cardinal direction. The great festival named ocna (“enter the house”) was held yearly in the mouth of Yax or Chen, in honour of the Chacs. In order to determine an auspicious day to hold the ceremony, the Bacabs were consulted: who were 4 gods held in close association with the Chacs. Incense burners and idols were renewed during this ceremony.
Photo taken by Dennis Jarvis. When writing up this post, Sylvanus Griswold Morley’s The Ancient Maya (Stanford Uni Press), was of use.
Egyptian Polychrome Mask with Glass Eyes, Roman Period, 30 BC-323 AD
A moulded ceramic funerary mask of a youthful female with braided hair drawn to the top of the head, painted detailing to the eyes, eyebrows, hair, lips, earrings and mantle; the eyes with inset glass panels.
Masks depicting the dead have been found in elite Egyptian burials dating as early as the First Intermediate period (2134-2040 BC). A mask placed over a mummy’s head both protected and identified the deceased. The traditional use of burial masks continued when Egypt was controlled by the Greeks and the Romans and still incorporated traditional styles and deities. As well as plaster masks portraits were also painted onto panels of wood and are known as Faiyum portraits.These masks incorporate Greco-Roman realistic portraiture into the older Egyptian practice of burial masks. The realism of these portraits allows us to date them by comparing the hairstyles and jewellery to known trends depicted in coin and sculptural portraits. These masks were often modeled to sit slightly above the body so as to give the impression that the deceased has been resurrected.