Restorative Art

The androgyny of the human corpse is well understood by morticians. This morticians' manual from 1954 gives extensive advice on various techniques including stitching, padding, bracing, painting and binding to rebuild or restore a corpse to a condition which resembles life. The side by side comparison (below left) of the male and female bodies is meant to show the correct arrangment of tissue to achieve the most feminine or masculine appearance possible. The chart of faces (bottom right) demonstrates the proper shape for male and female heads. Note how, according to this chart, there is no one shape that can be shared by both men and women. One shape of note is the diamond in the bottom right corner of the chart which appears neither wholly feminine or masculine.

The heightened attention paid by the mortician to segregating corpses into either the male or female gender is a tribute to the extent to which human activity is dictated by gender prior to death. The extent to which gender identity can be restored or even exaggerated post mortem is a measure of how "life-like" a corpse appears during funeral services.


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Androgyny Image