Want to learn more about Egyptian death masks? Read on for facts and info on this mysterious burial custom and find out what an Egyptian death mask was meant to symbolize…
Egyptian death masks played a very important role in ancient Egyptian society. The Egyptians were extremely religious people and had extremely elaborate burial rituals as well as complex beliefs about life after death.
According to ancient Egyptian mythology death was not considered to be the end of one’s life. Rather it was a process through which every living soul must go through in order to reach to the next level of eternal life.
In order to attain eternal life the Egyptians believed that it was mandatory to preserve the dead body and they would do this by mummifying the body. The mummies would then be placed inside the tomb along with other vital items that the Egyptians believed would come in handy for the individual in the afterlife.
The list of items that were placed inside the tombs included statues of the deities, some important furniture, funeral equipment as well as the Egyptian death mask.
The Egyptian Death Mask Ritual
The death mask was part of the elaborate rituals that were held upon the death of an individual. For the Egyptians the preservation of the death mask was believed to be a necessity to ensure that that the individual would have a blissful afterlife.
In essence the death masks were constructed to give the dead individual a face in his eternal life. Thus as the soul would leave the dead body and enter into the dimension of eternity it would assume the face of the death mask. It was also believed that the death mask would help the spirits to identify the dead and it will also act as a means of identification for the other people that had already entered into the next dimension.
Egyptian Death Mask Design
The design of Egyptian death masks was relative to the status of the individual that had passed away. In general the higher the status of the dead the more elaborate the death mask design would be.
The basic method of construction employed for creating the death mask was to develop a plaster cast of the actual face of the dead body. Then depending on the status they would make a copy of this cast in gold or some other material that was in line with the status of the deceased individual.
After the cast had been developed in the material of choice it was then painted to make it appear as close to the actual face of the deceased individual. The royalty always had their death mask made out of pure gold and to top it off they would be studded with a wide variety of precious gemstones such as lapis lazuli and the like.
If the deceased individual was a man the Egyptians would make use of red paint to indicate this fact. On the other hand yellow paint tones were used for female deceased.
Since mummification had its own specific rules in order to ensure that the dead body lasts as long as possible the details were carved onto the death mask keeping these rules in mind. The death masks would have all kinds of details including the shape of the nose, eyebrows, lips and hairstyles according to the social status of the individual.