Iron mask with grotesque nose-piece, moulded eye-brows and furrowed brow, worn by executioner, European, 1501-1700
An executioner is said to have worn this mask before delivering the final blow, with either an axe or sword. It cuts a gruesome figure and is deliberately macabre and menacing to further terrify the prisoner. Executioners often wore masks to hide their identity and avoid any retribution. They were often booed and jeered, especially if the person to be executed was a popular or sympathetic figure.