Sunday, January 23, 2011

Death Becomes You

The Death Mask and Gloves of Martin Luther
A few months ago I came across The History Channel's show, Death Masks, and was instantly intrigued.  They are wax or plaster molds of the recently deceased face. They were used to make portraits or as mementos of the loved one. They had discussed the death mask of William Shakespeare and Napoleon and whether or not the popular opinion of what they looked like is accurate.  The mask of Abraham Lincoln was used to analyze how his facial features affected his life.
Death masks were used as tradition in many countries through out history. The most prominent being the ancient Egyptians. The burial  mask of King Tut is a great example of such. The mask was believed to guard the soul of the dead and help strengthen them for their after life.

 I found an article written by orbit-mag and it only added to my intrigue. According to the article, there is a historical museum in Michigan, who has the death masks of Jesse James and Butch Cassidy.  The article goes on to explain some of the funeral purposes of death masks and those would wear them: "In patrician Rome, for example, a wax mask was worn by someone who closely resembled the deceased, while others wore masks of his forbears. According to Pliny, these masks were kept in a special cupboard, an ancestral congregation awaiting the next funeral"

I wonder if The Mutter Museum has any. Something I may have to find out.

Which famous/infamous person in history's death mask would you want to see?

1 comment:

  1. I've never seen a death mask at the Mutter museum, but they used to have really cool shrunken heads.