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The Roman portrait masks of deceased members of a family; they were made of wax and painted, and probably fastened on to busts. They were kept in small wooden shrines let into the inner walls of the atrium. [The design of the funeral monument represented in the accompanying out has been obviously suggested by this method of enshrining the bust.] Inscriptions under the shrines recorded the names, merits, and exploits of the persons they referred to. The images were arranged and connected with one another by means of coloured lines, in such a way as to exhibit the pedigree (stemma) of the family. On festal days the shrines were opened, and the busts crowned with bay-leaves. At family funerals, there were people specially appointed to walk in procession before the body, wearing, the masks of the deceased members of the family, and clothed in the insignia of the rank which they had held when alive. The right of having these ancestral images carried in procession was one of the privileges of the nobility. [Polybius, vi 53: Pliny, N. H., xxxv 2 §§ 6, 7; Mommsen, Rom. Hist., book iii, chap. xiii.]

Pictures and Media
MEMORIAL BUST OF A ROMAN LADY. (Rome, Lateran Museum.)
Type: Standard
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