How Death Masks Work

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5 Groups Who Claim to Talk to the Dead

5 Groups Who Claim to Talk to the Dead

Some people say they can talk to the dead, and we're not just talking about mediums. Read about people who can talk to the dead at HowStuffWorks.

Author's Note: How Death Masks Work

I first learned about death masks a few years ago while I was researching a paper for a course on Russian opera. Thumbing through the pages of Tchaikovsky's biography, I stopped on a photograph of the great composer, or more precisely his corpse. The facing page featured his death mask, almost an exact mirror of the photograph. I couldn't tear myself away, and I stared at the death mask until I remembered I had deadlines to meet. Every now and then, I remembered the death mask but never really knew what it was. Writing this article helped me understand the strange plaster cast I saw. Death masks (and life masks) humanize the figures of history for me. I'm inspired to make my own life mask now, if only to scare my friends.

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  • Delaney, John. "Laurence Hutton Collection of Life and Death Masks. A Pictorial Guide by John Delaney." Princeton University Library. 2003. (April 1, 2012)
  • Encyclopædia Britannica. "Death Mask." Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 2012. (April 4, 2012)
  • FBI. "Famous Cases and Criminals: John Dillinger." (Nov. 26, 2012)
  • Gibson, Iris I.J.M. "Death Masks Unlimited." British Medical Journal (Clinical Research Edition). Vol. 291, no. 6511. Pages 1785-1787. December 21-28, 1985.
  • History Channel. "Death Masks." YouTube. 2009. (April 5, 2012)
  • Radiolab. "Death Mask." Nov. 28, 2011. (March 31, 2012)