The death mask, a curious memento of the dead
How some famous people faced their own mortality
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The preparation and creation of death masks can be traced back to ancient Egypt, when funeral masks were made as part of the mummification process, most famously for King Tutankhamun. But it wasn't until the Middle Ages that death masks began appearing not so much as a ritual element, but as a way of serving as a model for sculptors in creating statues and busts of the deceased person. By the 1800s, death masks had become valued for themselves, and it was quite fashionable for departed individuals of note such as scientists, composers, and writers to be revered in such a way, a final viewing of the deceased created for posterity.
Click through for a final look at some of history's most famous—and infamous—death mask recipients.
CELEBRITY British royal family
FASHION Celebrity style
CELEBRITY Celebrity trivia