Roman Wax Funeral Masks

wax-roman-masks

Some 2,000 years ago, elite Roman families stuffed their closets with wax masks made in the likeness of their male ancestors so that during funeral processions actors could fill in for the missing links of the genealogical line.

Scholars know about the strange practice from ancient sources, such as the Greek historian Polybius, though none of the masks themselves survive.

wax-mask1

[A] team of researchers at Cornell University made life-cast molds of their own faces to recreate these imagines maiorum, and they found that the wax masks were indeed uncannily lifelike.

In Roman times, the masks would have been constantly discolored and degraded by candle flames and smoke as well as the occasional handling during funeral processions and the copying process. (New households forged by marriage needed their own sets of ancestor masks.)

wax-mask5

By Megan Gannon via LiveScience.

This entry was posted in Culture, History, Visual Art by Heretic. Bookmark the permalink.

About Heretic

I design video games for a living, write fiction, political theory and poetry for personal amusement, and train regularly in Western European 16th century swordwork. On frequent occasion I have been known to hunt for and explore abandoned graveyards, train tunnels and other interesting places wherever I may find them, but there is absolutely no truth to the rumor that I am preparing to set off a zombie apocalypse. Nothing that will stand up in court, at least. I use paranthesis with distressing frequency, have a deep passion for history, anthropology and sociological theory, and really, really, really hate mayonnaise. But I wash my hands after the writing. Promise.

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