Mask, supposedly worn by plague doctors

German Historical Museum

German Historical Museum
Berlin, Germany

To protect against epidemics, plague doctors and plague healers wore a leather gown with a wrap and a mask-like headgear tightly enclosing the entire head. In its beak-shaped projection, the nasal protection, were herbs or sponges soaked with vinegar, which were supposed to protect the doctor from infection in direct contact with the infected person.

However, it is unclear whether hoods like this one were actually used by doctors. The peak period of the plague was already over in the Holy Roman Empire and in Austria in the 17th/18th century.


  • Title: Mask, supposedly worn by plague doctors
  • Date Created: 1650-1750
  • Location: Germany, Austria
  • Physical Dimensions: h: 48 cm
  • Subject Keywords: Early Modern Age
  • Type: Protective clothing
  • Rights: Deutsches Historisches Museum
  • External Link: DHM collection database
  • Medium: Cotton velvet, canvas, satin spar (selenite), leather
  • Photographer: Cordia Schlegelmilch
  • Inventory no.: AK 2006/51

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