Postcard: Egyptian Death Mask

Egyptian Death Mask, c.30 BCE


This Death Mask dating from c.30 BCE was acquired by Robert J. Hubbard during his 1894 Grand Tour of Egypt and the Mediterranean. Affectionately termed “The Pretty Lady” our death mask has the hallmarks of a traditional mask of the timegold face, scarab/wing motif, and religious iconography. 

To prepare for the afterlife, a cartonnage mask was made in the deceased’s image.  The gold allowed the golden faced sun god, Ra, to recognize the wearer as an important being and welcome them to the afterlife. The scarab was a symbol of rebirth in Ancient Egypt and was prominently referenced in funerary ware. The detail on our mask’s forehead is believed to be a scarab. Not pictured on the postcard are two kneeling figures on the chest-piece suspected to be the goddesses of rebirth and the death experience-Isis and Nephthys, respectively. 

You can view the entire mask in our Grand Tour/Egyptian Room.