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Encyclopedia > Death mask
Death mask of Blaise Pascal.
Death mask of Blaise Pascal.

A death mask is a plaster or wax cast made of a person's face following death. Death masks may be mementos of the dead, or be used for creation of portraits. It is sometimes possible to identify portraits that have been painted from death masks, because of the characteristic slight distortions of the features caused by the weight of the plaster during the making of the mould. Death Mask is the seventh episode of the second season of the television series Rome. ... Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... Blaise Pascal (pronounced ), (June 19, 1623 – August 19, 1662) was a French mathematician, physicist, and religious philosopher. ... This article is about the building material. ... candle wax This page is about the substance. ... For other uses, see Death (disambiguation), Dead (disambiguation), Death (band) or Deceased (band). ... Roman-Egyptian funeral portrait of a young boy A portrait is a painting (portrait painting), photograph (portrait photography), or other artistic representation of a person, in which the face and its expression is predominant. ...

In the seventeenth century in some European countries, it was common for death masks to be used as part of the effigy of the deceased, displayed at state funerals. During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries they were also used to permanently record the features of unknown corpses for the purposes of identification. This function was later replaced by photography. (16th century - 17th century - 18th century - more centuries) As a means of recording the passage of time, the 17th century was that century which lasted from 1601-1700. ... The effigy of John Gower in Southwark Cathedral, London. ... Photography [fәtɑgrәfi:],[foʊtɑgrәfi:] is the process of recording pictures by means of capturing light on a light-sensitive medium, such as a film or electronic sensor. ...

Proponents of phrenology and ethnography also used both death masks and life masks (taken from living subjects) for scientific and pseudoscientific purposes. A 19th century phrenology chart. ... Ethnography ( ethnos = people and graphein = writing) is the genre of writing that presents varying degrees of qualitative and quantitative descriptions of human social phenomena, based on fieldwork. ... A typical 18th century phrenology chart. ...


History of death mask

Sculpted masks

Masks of desceased persons are known as a part of traditions of many countries. The most important process of the funeral ceremony in the ancient Egypt was the mummification of a body which, after prayers and consecration, was put into a sarcophagus enameled and decorated with gold and gems. A special element of the rite was a sculpted mask, put on the face of the deceased. This mask was believed to strengthen the spirit of the mummy and guard the soul from evil spirits on its way to the afterworld. The best known mask is that of Tutankhamun. Made of gold and gems, the mask conveys the features of the ancient ruler. Such masks were not, however, made from casts of the features, rather the mumificatuion process itself preserved the features of the deceased. Khafres Pyramid and the Great Sphinx of Giza, built about 2550 BC during the Fourth Dynasty of the Old Kingdom,[1] are enduring symbols of the civilization of ancient Egypt Ancient Egypt was a civilization in Northeastern Africa concentrated along the middle to lower reaches of the Nile River... Nebkheperure Lord of the forms of Re Nomen Tutankhaten Living Image of the Aten Tutankhamun Hekaiunushema Living Image of Amun, ruler of Upper Heliopolis Horus name Kanakht Tutmesut The strong bull, pleasing of birth Nebty name Neferhepusegerehtawy One of perfect laws, who pacifies the two lands[2] Wer-Ah-Amun...

In 1876, the famous archeologist Heinrich Schliemann discovered in Mycenae six graves, being fully confident that those belonged to the kings and ancient Greek heroes Agamemnon, Cassandra, Evrimdon, and their associates. To his surprise, the skulls were covered by the gold masks. It is now thought highly unlikely that the masks that Schliemann found really belonged to Agamemnon and other heroes of the Homeric epic. Portrait of Heinrich Schliemann. ... A clay tablet with writing in Linear B from Mycenae. ... This article is about a character in Greek mythology. ... For other uses, see Cassandra (disambiguation). ...


Voltaire's retouched death mask (with open eyes).

In the Middle Ages, a shift took place from sculpted masks to true death masks, made out of wax and plaster casts. These masks were not interred with the deceased. Instead, they were used in funeral ceremonies and were later kept in the libraries, museums, and universities. The death masks were taken not only of the deceased royalty and nobility (Henry VIII, Sforza), but also of the eminent persons - poets, philosophers, and dramaturges, such as Dante, Filippo Brunelleschi, Torquato Tasso, and Blaise Pascal. The death masks were then used for making marble sculpture portraits and busts or engravings of the deceased. Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... For the singer of the same name, see Voltaire (musician). ... The Middle Ages formed the middle period in a traditional schematic division of European history into three ages: the classical civilization of Antiquity, the Middle Ages, and modern times, beginning with the Renaissance. ... “Henry VIII” redirects here. ... Sforza was a ruling family of Renaissance Italy, based in Milan. ... Dante in a fresco series of famous men by Andrea del Castagno, ca. ... Sculpture of Brunelleschi looking at the dome in Florence Filippo Brunelleschi (1377 – April 15, 1446) was one of the foremost architects of the Italian Renaissance. ... The tone or style of this article or section may not be appropriate for Wikipedia. ... Blaise Pascal (pronounced ), (June 19, 1623 – August 19, 1662) was a French mathematician, physicist, and religious philosopher. ...

Frédéric Chopin's death mask.
Frédéric Chopin's death mask.

In Russia, the death mask tradition dates back to the times of Peter the Great. His death mask taken by Carlo Bartolomeo Rastrelli as well as death masks of Alexander I, Nicholas I, and Alexander II are well known. One of the first real Ukrainian death masks known is the mask of the Ukrainian poet Taras Shevchenko taken by Peter Clodt von Jürgensburg in Petersburg.[1] Image File history File links Metadata Size of this preview: 450 × 600 pixelsFull resolution (2112 × 2816 pixel, file size: 1. ... Image File history File links Metadata Size of this preview: 450 × 600 pixelsFull resolution (2112 × 2816 pixel, file size: 1. ... Chopin redirects here. ... Peter I Emperor and Autocrat of All Russia Peter I (Pyotr Alekseyvich) (9 June 1672–8 February 1725 [30 May 1672–28 January 1725 O.S.1]) ruled Russia from 7 May (27 April O.S.) 1682 until his death. ... Aleksandr I Pavlovich (Russian: Александр I Павлович) (December 23, 1777 – December 1, 1825?), was Emperor of Russia from 23 March 1801-1 December 1825 and Ruler of Poland from 1815–1825, as well as the first Grand Duke of Finland. ... Nicholas I (Russian: Николай I Павлович, Nikolai I Pavlovich), July 6 (June 25, Old Style), 1796–March 2 (18 February Old Style), 1855), was the Emperor of Russia from 1825 until 1855, known as one of the most reactionary of the Russian monarchs. ... Alexander (Aleksandr) II Nikolaevich (Russian: Александр II Николаевич) (Moscow, 29 April 1818 – 13 March 1881 in St. ... Taras Shevchenko Taras Hryhorovych Shevchenko (Ukrainian: ) (March 9, 1814 [O.S. February 25] – March 10, 1861 [O.S. February 26]) was a Ukrainian poet, also an artist and a humanist. ... Klodts statues in front of the royal palace in Naples. ...

Science and Forensics

Death masks were increasingly used by scientists from the late eitheenth century onwards to record variations in human physiognomy. The life mask was also increasingly common at this time, taken from living persons. Anthropologists used such masks to physiognomical features in famous persons or notorious criminals. They were also used to collect data on racial differences. Ned Kelly death mask (own photo) File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file, (del) = delete this old version, (rev) = revert to this old version. ... Ned Kelly death mask (own photo) File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file, (del) = delete this old version, (rev) = revert to this old version. ... Bushrangers, or bush rangers were outlaws in the early years of the European settlement of Australia who had the survival skills necessary to use the Australian bush as a refuge to hide from the authorities. ... For other uses, see Ned Kelly (disambiguation). ...

Before the widespread avalibility of photography the facial features of unidentified bodies were sometimes preserved by creating death masks so that relatives of the deceased could recognise them if they were seeking a missing person. One such mask, known as L'Inconnue de la Seine, recorded the face of an unidentified young woman found drowned in the Seine River in the 1880s. She was considered to be so beautiful that reproductions of the mask became very popular.[2] The face of Resusci Anne, the world's first CPR training Mannequin, introduced in 1960, was modeled after L'Inconnue de la Seine.[3][4] LInconnue de la Seine LInconnue de la Seine (from French for the unknown woman of the Seine) was an unidentified young woman whose death mask became a popular fixture on the walls of artist homes after 1900. ... This article is about the river in France. ... Resusci Anne, also known as Rescue Anne or CPR Annie, is a training mannequin used for teaching Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) to both emergency workers as well as members of the general public. ... For other meanings of CPR, see CPR (disambiguation). ...


  1. ^ Virtual Museum of Death Mask URL accessed on December 04, 2006
  2. ^ Elizabeth Bronfen, Over her Dead Body: Death, Femininity and the Aesthetic, MUP, 1992, p. 207
  3. ^ Laerdal company website: The Girl from the River Seine URL accessed on June 7, 2007
  4. ^ A Death Mask to Help Save Lives Archer Gordon, M.D., PH.D. URL accessed on June 8, 2007

External links

Wikimedia Commons has media related to:
Death mask
  • Laurence Hutton Collection of Life and Death Masks

  Results from FactBites:
Virtual Museum of Death Mask (1374 words)
DEATH MASK IN THE WORLD HISTORY In the Middle Ages, a shift took place from the precious masks to the masks made out of the wax and plaster casts.
During that period the death masks were taken of Paul von Hindenburg - German Field Marshal and President of Germany from 1925-1934, Reinhardt Heydrich - a protector of Bohemia and Moravia killed in Prague in 1942, and Erwin Rommel, renowned for his African desert victories during World War II and the plot against Hitler.
During the Soviet period, the death masks were taken of one of the founders of Ukrainian theater N.Sadovsky, academician D. Zabolotny, actors Maria Zankovetskaya and Panas Saksagansky.
North Carolina Collection-Napoleon Death Mask (627 words)
It is a hollow-cast plaster copy of Napoleon's death mask, one of the copies made by Francesco Antommarchi, who served as the deposed emperor's personal physician and constant companion during the last two years of Napoleon's life.
Following the death of Dr. Smith, the plaster mask was given to the family of Captain Francis Bryan, a resident of St. Louis, Missouri, and graduate of the University of North Carolina (Class of 1842).
On the underside of the mask is the handwritten inscription: "Dr. Edwin B. Smith's head of Nap.n" and "Presented to Dr. Smith by N[ap's] Phys'n.
  More results at FactBites »



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