High quality leather Plague Doctor Mask

£85.00

High quality leather Plague Doctor Mask.
Details:
- Material: high quality leather
- adjustable leather and fabric straps for every head size
- colours: black
- Weight: approx. 280 g
The plague was once the most feared disease in the world, capable of wiping out hundreds of millions of people in seemingly unstoppable global pandemics and afflicting its victims with painfully swollen lymph nodes, blackened skin, and other gruesome symptoms.
In 17th-century Europe, the physicians who tended to plague victims wore a costume that has since taken on sinister overtones: they covered themselves head to toe and wore a mask with a long bird-like beak. The reason behind the beaked plague masks was a misconception about the very nature of the dangerous disease.
During that period's outbreaks of the bubonic plague—a pandemic that recurred in Europe for centuries—towns gripped by the disease hired plague doctors who practiced what passed for medicine on rich and poor residents alike. These physicians prescribed what were believed to be protective concoctions and plague antidotes, witnessed wills, and performed autopsies—and some did so while wearing beaked masks.
The costume is usually credited to Charles de Lorme, a physician who catered to the medical needs of many European royals during the 17th century, including King Louis XIII and Gaston d'Orléans, son of Marie de Médici. He described an outfit that included a coat covered in scented wax, breeches connected to boots, a tucked-in shirt, and a hat and gloves made of goat leather. Plague doctors also carried a rod that allowed them to poke (or fend off) victims.
Their head gear was particularly unusual: Plague doctors wore spectacles, de Lorme continued, and a mask with a nose “half a foot long, shaped like a beak, filled with perfume with only two holes, one on each side near the nostrils, but that can suffice to breathe and carry along with the air one breathes the impression of the [herbs] enclosed further along in the beak.”
Though plague doctors across Europe wore these outfits, the look was so iconic in Italy that the "plague doctor" became a staple of Italian commedia dell’arte and carnival celebrations—and is still a popular costume today.

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