One of many creepiest and coolest traditions all through human historical past is the obsession with preserving the face of an individual after their dying. The end result is called dying masks, a solid fabricated from an individual’s face after they die. The solid is often fabricated from fabricated from wax, clay, or plaster, and the method has been round for hundreds of years. Many dying masks have been used to recollect the lifeless. As we speak, dying masks are a useful gizmo within the facial reconstruction of long-lost historic figures. They’re even useful when inspecting potential ailments and illnesses that may have led to their deaths. With such essential faces being preserved, there’s additionally been a substantial amount of controversy surrounding the authenticity of such masks.

10Napoleon Bonaparte

Napoleon Death Mask

The story of Napoleon Bonaparte’s dying masks is extra of a thriller than the rest. Napoleon died on the age of 51 on the island of St. Helena on Might 5, 1821. That a lot is understood for sure. Two days after his dying, the primary solid for Napoleon’s dying masks was made by Dr. Francis Burton with Dr. Antommarchi presiding. This solid can be the father or mother mildew for the remaining three recognized to exist.

Not lengthy after the solid was made, the masks was supposedly stolen by a girl named Madame Bertrand and brought to England. After a number of years of attempting to have the masks returned, Madame Bertrand did give Antommarchi a replica, which he authenticated from his personal reminiscence.

Therein lies the issue, as many doubt the authenticity of the masks that was returned. The Antommarchi masks, because it’s referred to as, regarded proportionally totally different than Napoleon’s options in work. Rumors started swirling that the solid was truly that of Napoleon’s valet, Jean-Baptiste Cipriani.

The story was additional skewed when rumors unfold that Jean-Baptiste Cipriani’s bones have been truly positioned in Napoleon’s sarcophagus at Les Invalides as a substitute of the Emperor’s. Whatever the rumors, the Antommarchi masks is the official masks on show at Napoleon’s tomb in Paris. The opposite copies of the Emperor’s dying masks have been unfold out over the world, offered and resold at private auctions, and ended up in museums, however all of them hyperlink again to the authenticity of Dr. Antommarchi’s authentic masks.

Is it actual? The 4 recognized dying masks of Napoleon Bonaparte have been the topic of controversy over the past two centuries, however evidently the consensus is that they’re prone to be from the face of the notorious Emperor and never Jean-Baptiste, as many conspiracy theorists imagine. There’s no option to inform for positive, and the thriller will probably proceed for a few years to return.

9William Shakespeare


In 1842, a masks bearing an uncanny resemblance to William Shakespeare was present in a ragpicker’s store in Germany. Coincidentally, the date 1616—the 12 months of Shakespeare’s dying—was carved into the plaster, solely including to the intrigue. Because the mask’s discovery, it’s been analyzed and reanalyzed to try to pin down a conclusive reply as as to if or not it’s, in actual fact, Shakespeare’s face. The one proof lecturers and forensic scientists must go on are six distinctly totally different portraits, his funeral bust situated in Stratford-Upon-Avon, and the Davenant bust in London.

Many research have been completed superimposing the entire parts of the busts to the portraits and masks, and though there are hanging similarities within the brow and nostril form, it wasn’t till scientists noticed the eyes that the proof pointed towards authenticity.

Via new forensic analyses, Professor Hildegard Hammerschmidt-Hummel, from the College of Mainz, was capable of uncover the identical obvious swelling on Shakespeare’s left eyelid situated on the dying masks, the Chandos and Flower portraits, and the Davenant bust. The expansion on the eyelid and swelling within the nasal nook indicated that Shakespeare could have suffered from a uncommon most cancers referred to as Mikulicz’s syndrome.

Hammerschmidt-Hummel’s work was criticized by many artwork historians because the Flower portrait and Davenant bust are often thought-about so far from the mid-Nineteenth century, a number of hundred years after Shakespeare’s dying. The Chandos portrait is prone to be a up to date depiction of Shakespeare, the Flower portrait is sort of definitely a Nineteenth-century forgery, and the Davenant bust might be from the Nineteenth century as nicely. No matter all of the proof pointing to the authenticity of the dying masks, quite a lot of specialists nonetheless take into account the solid to be a pretend.

Is it actual? We could by no means know. Very like many particulars of the Bard’s life, his dying masks’s authenticity additionally stays a thriller.

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8Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart


Mozart’s dying has been surrounded in thriller because the 18th century. The dying masks that allegedly belonged to the composer is one in every of legend now. Supposedly the masks was created by (*10*) very quickly after Mozart died. It was displayed in his gallery and, when the Depend died, his widow continued to show it till her dying in 1821, when the masks vanished altogether. Many conflicting tales of the masks’s destiny existed for the following 126 years. Some tales say it was smashed by Mozart’s spouse and others say it was by accident damaged by an admirer.

Then, in 1947, a bronze model of the masks—probably a replica of the unique solid—was found in an vintage store. Seeing the hanging resemblance to Mozart within the solid, proprietor Willy Kauer referred to as the Austrian Ministry of Training a 12 months later to inquire in regards to the masks’s authenticity. Unable to search out various consistencies with Mozart’s portraits and the masks, the exams have been thought-about inconclusive.

When the Mozarteum organized one other examination of the masks in 1956, they centered on chemical testing so far the masks. It’s speculated that the masks was created someday between 1830–1869. As soon as once more, the exams proved to be finally inconclusive, and the thriller of the masks remained. Kauer later gave the masks to Dr. Gunther Duda, who swears by the declare that the masks is Mozart, however its whereabouts now are unknown.

Is it actual? Odds are it’s most likely not actual even when the masks does exist someplace on the planet as we speak. Virtually the entire artifacts surrounding Mozart’s dying appear to be pretend or shrouded in thriller. Keep in mind the story of his supposed skull? Tooth taken from his supposed cranium at Vienna’s St. Mark’s Cemetery have been forensically analyzed and in comparison with thigh bones from the Mozart household grave. Nonetheless, DNA testing confirmed that none of those bones have been associated, and the cranium’s authenticity couldn’t be verified.

7Maximilien Robespierre


On the peak of France’s Reign of Terror, Maximilien Robespierre was despatched to the guillotine on July 28, 1794, on the ripe previous age of 36. Marie Tussaud was ordered to make dying masks of the notorious heads that rolled throughout the French Revolution, and Robespierre was excessive up on the record. Robespierre’s authentic wax dying masks lives in Madame Tussauds in London, however there are additionally a number of copies situated within the Granet Museum in Aix-en-Provence and the National Museum of Natural History in Paris.

The masks’s authenticity was introduced into query when a terrifying facial reconstruction was carried out in 2013. The face featured many abnormalities and apparent scars that coincided with descriptions of Robespierre’s options and the circumstances he could have suffered from. These embody apparent pox scars and infections, nosebleeds, imaginative and prescient impairment, jaundice, asthenia, and twitching of the eyes and mouth. A analysis states that he could have suffered from a uncommon autoimmune syndrome referred to as sarcoidosis.

Because the reconstructed face and signs appeared to match, most believed that the masks was certainly that of Robespierre and the ensuing face was his. Nonetheless, some historians imagine Madame Tussaud lied in regards to the authenticity of the masks to both promote her work or preserve herself from being despatched to the guillotine.

Moreover, the reconstructed face can’t be that of Robespierre because it varies drastically from his portraits and since his jaw was shot to items in an alleged suicide try the day before his execution.

Is it actual? We will’t make sure if the masks is actual contemplating it’s primarily based solely on the phrase of Madame Tussaud. It’s most likely not actual because the shattered jaw would have been very noticeable within the authentic masks had it been his actual face. The one factor that’s sure is that whomever’s face the reconstructed masks is made out of has fairly probably one of many scariest faces in historical past.

6Dante Alighieri

Dante death mask cropped

Between the Flats of Eleanor and the Halls of Priors within the Palazzo Vecchio, there may be an object resting alone in glass. That object is the dying masks of Dante Alighieri—perhaps. For hundreds of years, the masks (also called the Kirkup masks) has been thought-about to be the actual face of the poet solid straight from his face after dying. Nonetheless, current research have gone to indicate that it’s seemingly the masks was made in 1483 by Pietro and Tullio Lombardo. That’s 162 years after Dante died.

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Moreover, it’s believed that the masks might be a likeness of a misplaced effigy from Dante’s tomb in Ravenna. The controversial masks was donated to the Palazzo Vecchio in 1911, the place it stays to honor his contributions to Florence. In 2007, Italian scientists made a reconstruction of Dante’s face utilizing not the Kirkup masks, however calculations made on Dante’s cranium by Professor Fabio Frassetto in 1921. It’s believed that Fressetto illegally broke into Dante’s crypt to take away the cranium, made measurements, and created a plaster solid.

Is it actual? It has been concluded that the Kirkup masks will not be the notorious poet’s dying masks. Greater than seemingly it’s only a shut likeness made a few years after his dying. So far as the reconstruction goes, it might or is probably not the actual face of Dante because the bones haven’t been decisively confirmed as his.

5John Dillinger

John Dilinger

Conspiracies have swarmed about John Dillinger’s dying ever since he was shot exterior the Biograph Theater in Chicago. Each element (from the evening he was shot to the circumstances of his funeral) has been introduced into query to find out whether or not or not Dillinger pulled the best heist of all time. Eyewitnesses on the taking pictures declare the murdered man had brown eyes whereas Dillinger’s have been grey.

Extra hypothesis was caused when it was made public that his father and sister did not immediately identify the body on the slab as John Dillinger. One of many points with the speculation is that John Dillinger underwent quite a few plastic surgical procedures previous to his dying to make himself much less conspicuous in public. This included having his fingerprints altered or eliminated solely for identification.

Naturally, this led to some confusion as as to if or not the person who was shot down was, in actual fact, the notorious gangster. It’s broadly accepted that the person was John Dillinger, and his dying masks presents a glimpse on the face that brought on a lot controversy. Cosmetic surgery or not, there is no such thing as a doubt it presents a hanging resemblance to the gangster and has grow to be one thing of an emblem for Prohibition and the top of the period the place tommy gun–wielding outlaws took over.

Is it actual? There’s no denying that the dying masks on show is actual and a documented genuine masks. The controversy lies in whether or not or not the person shot down was truly John Dillinger. It appears seemingly that each the physique and the masks belong to Public Enemy Quantity One, however conspiracy theorists make a compelling case.

4Marie Antoinette

Marie Antoinette

Robespierre wasn’t the one head Marie Tussaud was employed to make a masks of on the peak of the French Revolution. Two of the heads that made her a family identify belonged to King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette. It’s mentioned that she was obliged to make a cast of the lifeless monarchs’ heads shortly after they have been put by the guillotine.

The wax dying masks of Marie Antoinette can nonetheless be discovered at Madame Tussauds in London. The query of authenticity isn’t a lot of a subject, because it’s frequent information that Marie Tussaud took the solid of Marie Antoinette’s head. The controversy lies in the truth that the wax masks is all that continues to be of the lifeless queen. There isn’t a report of a plaster or clay solid from which the wax head was made and there aren’t any copies from the unique recognized to exist besides on the wax museum.

Even some spectators have points with the unique. It appears as if Tussaud took liberties in making use of the ears to the face. With wax, it’s laborious so as to add any exterior options with out cracking the masks altogether, so this isn’t an unusual follow. Nonetheless, it’s the solely recognized dying masks of Marie Antoinette to exist on the planet as we speak.

Is it actual? It’s protected to imagine that if Madame Tussauds was capable of purchase the actual guillotine that decapitated Marie Antoinette, then the wax dying masks can be actual. It has all the time been broadly accepted that the wax head within the London exhibit does certainly belong to the executed Queen of France.

3Mary, Queen Of Scots

Mary Queen of Scots

In 1587, Queen Elizabeth I ordered the execution of her cousin Mary, Queen of Scots, for treason. She was beheaded after three painful strikes. As was the customized, a dying masks was created instantly after her beheading. There are two recognized copies of her masks in the UK—although 4 have been supposedly created—in addition to one at Falkland Palace, primarily based on her effigy at Westminster Abbey.

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The Lennoxlove masks is small and broadly accepted as the unique masks because it has been within the possession of the Hamilton household for over 250 years. Additional proof consists of the Hamilton household being in possession of Mary’s jewellery along with the masks.

The second masks was discovered by Dr. Charles Hepburn in Peterborough, the place Mary was initially buried. This mask is hand-painted and appears considerably totally different from the Lennoxlove copy. It’s at present being displayed in a museum devoted to Mary in Jedburgh, the place it’s believed that she stayed after falling sick.

The masks’s authenticity is persistently introduced into query because the options don’t match as much as the Lennoxlove masks or lots of Mary’s portraits. With that being mentioned, each are thought-about “the actual deal” and displayed as such.

Is it actual? The death mask at Lennoxlove is probably actual, however we can’t be sure. Documentation claims the masks was made instantly following Mary’s execution, although the eyelashes have been added at a later time. As for the superbly painted wax head in Jedburgh, let’s simply say quite a lot of inventive liberties have been taken within the making of that masks, whether it is even of Mary in any respect.

2Heinrich Himmler

Heinrich Himmler

As a pacesetter of the Nazi Celebration, Heinrich Himmler dedicated suicide on Might 23, 1945, after biting right into a cyanide pill with a view to keep away from a warfare crime conviction. After his dying, two dying masks have been created by British intelligence officers as proof of death.

One masks confirmed a contorted and grotesque face whereas the opposite was relaxed and reasonably serene. What occurred to the twisted masks is unknown, however the second masks is at present on show on the Imperial Battle Museum in London. Himmler’s physique was buried in an unmarked grave and, to today, the location is still unknown. For that reason, many conspiracy theorists jumped to conclusions as to the authenticity of the masks on show and what occurred to the primary masks. The masks bears an uncanny resemblance to Himmler, so it’s broadly believed to be a solid of his face.

Is it actual? It appears to be undisputed that the dying masks belongs to Himmler. Conspiracy theorists attempt to declare in any other case, because the whereabouts of his physique are mysteriously unknown, however on this case it’s protected to imagine the solid is of the lifeless Reichsfuhrer.



In 1876, a person named Heinrich Schliemann found an historic grave web site in Mycenae. The invention was spectacular sufficient, however after attending to the underside of the burial shaft, he seen that 5 of the our bodies had dying masks made solely of gold. One mask particularly differed from the others as a result of its three-dimensional design and the acute consideration to element on the options.

Schliemann was wholly satisfied that he had found the tomb and physique of Agamemnon, the commander of the Greek forces throughout the Siege of Troy in The Iliad. He continued to again up his declare by mentioning that the opposite males within the tomb web site didn’t have masks, however weapons, making them warriors.

Moreover, the intricate gold masks represented a really excessive standing of wealth that will match with the story of Agamemnon. There are many skeptics that doubt the validity of the masks, and it appears they’ve compelling proof to again up their claims. Archaeologists have completed in depth analysis on the masks and state it was most likely made someday between 1550–1500 B.C., which is sooner than the lifetime of Agamemnon.

As well as, Schliemann had a reputation for contaminating his personal excavations by inserting artifacts within the dig web site for his personal profit. No matter what occurred or whom the masks belongs to, it’s at present being displayed within the Nationwide Archaeological Museum in Athens, Greece.

Is it actual? The Masks of Agamemnon is unquestionably an historic artifact and dying masks of some long-dead legend. Is it the face of Agamemnon? Science says no, however it was enjoyable to consider whereas it lasted.

Morgan Swank is an expert joke author, social media guru, and all-around record maker. Observe her on Twitter @MorganSwank.


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