Carved from ivory, this model shows a human male face on one side and a skull crawling with worms on the other. A banner with an inscription runs around the man’s face. This type of model is thought to be a memento mori – literally a reminder of death and the shortness of life. The skull was the symbol of death from the 1500s onwards. Previously death was represented as a skeleton accompanied by a living victim.
cat·a·falque noun \ˈka-tə-ˌfȯ(l)k, -ˌfalk\
1: an ornamental structure sometimes used in funerals for the lying in state of the body
2: a pall-covered coffin-shaped structure used at requiem masses celebrated after burial