Gilded silver mask

Liao Dynasty
Length: 31 cm, Width: 22.2 cm
Unearthed in Fangshan, Beijing

Metal masks were funerary articles for Khitan nobles to protect the faces of the diseased, which is a unique burial practice in Khitan tribes. As to records, Khitan nobles after death would be covered faces with gold or silver masks and wrapped hands and feet with copper wires. Masks made of gold and silver were used according to different ranks, ages and genders of the occupants. This article is in good state of preservation. It has a clearly outlined face, slicked-back hair and projecting brow ridges. Its closed eyes and compressed lips show a calm expression. There are holes for cords beneath the ears and in the temples. The features of the masks are characteristic of Chinese northern minorities. Similar masks were discovered in tombs dating back to Liao Dynasty in Inner Mongolia and Liaoning.