The Canadian sculptor Jean Pronovost has carved and painted with a faux finish a reproduction of an ancient Mayan jade mask. The mask is considered one of the most beautiful works of art of the Mayan culture; it comes from Calakmul and was carved between 660 and 750 AD. J.C.
The carved reproduction has been carefully elaborated with many references and the proportion as well as its format is faithful to the original sculpture in jade; approximatively 8 by 14.5 inches.
The sculpture was carved from special clay and was remolded several times to look like a polished stone, countless hours of sanding were made to achieve this realistic and convincing result.
The story of the Mask is rich and goes back to an almost forgotten era of Mayan history. Its main function was not to be a simple ornamental piece and its history goes back to the years 660 and 750 AD, When it was made to be part of the funeral furniture of a leader, still unidentified, of the Kaan dynasty.
The mask is very complex because it has many elements, not only the face of the king himself, which was worked in a naturalistic way, but also all the symbols made at the time of the death of the sovereign who represents the Mayan cosmogony.
The mask’s ears are in the shape of two four-petalled flowers, a model in which the Mayan cosmogony is represented, in addition to being synonymous with the sacred lineage and fertility.
Under the nose and the lips are seen elements made with the shell which were placed to simulate the last breath of the sovereign, his open mouth indicates the transition of the sovereign to the supernatural world.
In his hairstyle is represented a cave under a mountain; the place where, according to the Maya, life is reborn. Under his chin is a butterfly with spread wings, which represents the soul of the deceased, it is good to remember that in ancient Mesoamerica, butterflies were the messengers of the sun.
The sculpture had been finely sanded to perfectly replicate the Jade effect, and then the sculpture has been painted with a multitude of glazes to mimic the transparency and complexity of the Jade. Varnishes were finally applied to gloss the surface and protect the false finish.
You can see the different pieces of jade that have distinct hues, appreciate the polished look of the stone which is actually carved and polished resin, the false finish is exceptional and is very close to the rich vibrant colors that the Mayans cherished so much, several stages of glaze were painted to get there.
The quality of such a sculpture made Jean Pronovost one the greatest sculptor.