Make an Ancient Egyptian death mask
When someone died in Ancient Egypt, their body would have been preserved by being mummified. This meant that the soul would have somewhere to return to after death. A death mask was created so that the soul would recognise its body, and return to it safely. Death masks were also believed to help to guard a dead person from evil spirits in the afterlife.
If the dead person was important, their mummified body would have been put into a special wooden coffin called a sarcophagus. These were highly decorated with bright paint, gold and gems, and often featured hieroglyphics. For the richest and most important Egyptians, the death mask would have been made of gold!
Try our fab activity to make your own Egyptian death mask – perfect for dressing up! Our mask is based on the most famous death mask ever found, that of the boy Pharaoh, Tutankhamun.
Adult supervision is not required for this activity.
Ages : Suitable for all ages.
Time Required: 2 hours (you will need to leave it to dry after the papier mache and painting stages, so allow time for this!)
Draw around your face mask in the middle of your piece of thick cardboard.
Draw the outline of your death mask around your face mask.
Cut out your template – you need to cut away the face mask shape from the middle. This can be tricky, so you might need an adult to help.
Use masking tape to stick your face mask into the middle of your template. You will need to turn over your mask and stick it on the inside too.
Cut two slits in your cardboard tube about 2cm long on opposite sides of the tube, and then cut between these slits on one side, so that a small section comes off the tube. It should look like the picture – this will be your beard!
Attach your cardboard beard onto the chin of your face mask and stick with masking tape.
Time to get mucky! Tear strips of newspaper and stick them to your mask using wallpaper paste (or a mixture of flour and water). Make sure that you cover your whole mask. Roll a small ball of newspaper and push it up the end of your beard, and cover this with newspaper strips too. Leave your covered mask to dry overnight.
Paint your mask gold. We used gold spray paint; if you use spray paint make sure you do it outside or with lots of windows open as it can get smelly! Leave your painted mask to dry.
Cut your dark blue paper into 1cm wide strips, and use these to decorate the edge of your mask. Stick them in place with glue (a glue stick works best). Try to make sure that the stripes match up on either side of the mask.
Draw around the eyes and add eyebrows with your marker pen. You can also decorate the beard of your mask with diagonal criss-cross lines.
Your mask is complete - have fun wearing it!
- Plastic face mask (from a craft shop)
- Thick cardboard
- Masking tape
- Wallpaper paste (or flour and water)
- Gold paint
- Cardboard tube
- Paint brush
- Black marker pen
- Dark blue paper
- Glue stick