Gold Death-Mask

Age of Contact

Oton, Iloilo
1300 - 1400 AD



Long before the coming of the Spaniards, early inhabitants used gold ornaments for the the dead. The face of the corpse was covered with delicately worked sheets of gold. The craftsman cut out two pieces. He placed the first piece on a soft surface like clay or wax and with a pointed tool, pressed the design from behind.He used a different design for each eye. He shaped the second sheet for covering the nose.

The burial practice of covering the eyes, nose and mouth of the dead with sheets of gold is a custom of the southern Chinese practiced by a limited group of Filipinos. It is believed that when the face of the dead is covered with a gold mask, evil spirits cannot enter the body. The gold nose-disc and gold eye-mask dated from the late 14th to the early 15th century A.D. was found in a grave site in San Antonio, Oton, Iloilo (Central Philippines). Aside from the museum collection, another pre-hispanic gold burial mask was also recovered in Masao, Butuan, Agusan del Norte where gold was abundant in ancient times.


This page was last modified Monday, February 10, 2014
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