Embalming

Embalming

Overview

Embalming, in most modern culture
Culture
Culture is a term that has many different inter-related meanings. For example, in 1952, Alfred Kroeber and Clyde Kluckhohn compiled a list of 164 definitions of "culture" in Culture: A Critical Review of Concepts and Definitions...

s, is the art
Art
Art is the product or process of deliberately arranging items in a way that influences and affects one or more of the senses, emotions, and intellect....

 and science
Science
Science is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe...

 of temporarily preserving human remains to forestall decomposition
Decomposition
Decomposition is the process by which organic material is broken down into simpler forms of matter. The process is essential for recycling the finite matter that occupies physical space in the biome. Bodies of living organisms begin to decompose shortly after death...

 and to make them suitable for public display at a funeral
Funeral
A funeral is a ceremony for celebrating, sanctifying, or remembering the life of a person who has died. Funerary customs comprise the complex of beliefs and practices used by a culture to remember the dead, from interment itself, to various monuments, prayers, and rituals undertaken in their honor...

. The three goals of embalming are thus sanitization
Disinfection
Disinfectants are substances that are applied to non-living objects to destroy microorganisms that are living on the objects. Disinfection does not necessarily kill all microorganisms, especially nonresistant bacterial spores; it is less effective than sterilisation, which is an extreme physical...

, presentation
Presentation
Presentation is the practice of showing and explaining the content of a topic to an audience or learner. Presentations come in nearly as many forms as there are life situations...

 and preservation (or restoration) of a corpse to achieve this effect. Embalming has a very long and cross-cultural
Cross-cultural
cross-cultural may refer to*cross-cultural studies, a comparative tendency in various fields of cultural analysis*cross-cultural communication, a field of study that looks at how people from differing cultural backgrounds communicate...

 history, with many cultures giving the embalming processes a greater religious
Religion
Religion is a collection of cultural systems, belief systems, and worldviews that establishes symbols that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values. Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to...

 meaning.

Embalming has been practiced in many cultures.
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Encyclopedia

Embalming, in most modern culture
Culture
Culture is a term that has many different inter-related meanings. For example, in 1952, Alfred Kroeber and Clyde Kluckhohn compiled a list of 164 definitions of "culture" in Culture: A Critical Review of Concepts and Definitions...

s, is the art
Art
Art is the product or process of deliberately arranging items in a way that influences and affects one or more of the senses, emotions, and intellect....

 and science
Science
Science is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe...

 of temporarily preserving human remains to forestall decomposition
Decomposition
Decomposition is the process by which organic material is broken down into simpler forms of matter. The process is essential for recycling the finite matter that occupies physical space in the biome. Bodies of living organisms begin to decompose shortly after death...

 and to make them suitable for public display at a funeral
Funeral
A funeral is a ceremony for celebrating, sanctifying, or remembering the life of a person who has died. Funerary customs comprise the complex of beliefs and practices used by a culture to remember the dead, from interment itself, to various monuments, prayers, and rituals undertaken in their honor...

. The three goals of embalming are thus sanitization
Disinfection
Disinfectants are substances that are applied to non-living objects to destroy microorganisms that are living on the objects. Disinfection does not necessarily kill all microorganisms, especially nonresistant bacterial spores; it is less effective than sterilisation, which is an extreme physical...

, presentation
Presentation
Presentation is the practice of showing and explaining the content of a topic to an audience or learner. Presentations come in nearly as many forms as there are life situations...

 and preservation (or restoration) of a corpse to achieve this effect. Embalming has a very long and cross-cultural
Cross-cultural
cross-cultural may refer to*cross-cultural studies, a comparative tendency in various fields of cultural analysis*cross-cultural communication, a field of study that looks at how people from differing cultural backgrounds communicate...

 history, with many cultures giving the embalming processes a greater religious
Religion
Religion is a collection of cultural systems, belief systems, and worldviews that establishes symbols that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values. Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to...

 meaning.

History


Embalming has been practiced in many cultures. In classical antiquity
Classical antiquity
Classical antiquity is a broad term for a long period of cultural history centered on the Mediterranean Sea, comprising the interlocking civilizations of ancient Greece and ancient Rome, collectively known as the Greco-Roman world...

, perhaps the ancient culture that had developed embalming to the greatest extent was that of ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt was an ancient civilization of Northeastern Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile River in what is now the modern country of Egypt. Egyptian civilization coalesced around 3150 BC with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under the first pharaoh...

, which developed the process of mummification
Mummy
A mummy is a body, human or animal, whose skin and organs have been preserved by either intentional or incidental exposure to chemicals, extreme coldness , very low humidity, or lack of air when bodies are submerged in bogs, so that the recovered body will not decay further if kept in cool and dry...

. They believed that preservation of the mummy empowered the soul after death, which would return to the preserved corpse. Other cultures that had developed embalming processes include the Incas and other cultures of Peru
Peru
Peru , officially the Republic of Peru , is a country in western South America. It is bordered on the north by Ecuador and Colombia, on the east by Brazil, on the southeast by Bolivia, on the south by Chile, and on the west by the Pacific Ocean....

, whose climate also favoured a form of mummification.
However some of the best preserved bodies in the world are from Han dynasty
Han Dynasty
The Han Dynasty was the second imperial dynasty of China, preceded by the Qin Dynasty and succeeded by the Three Kingdoms . It was founded by the rebel leader Liu Bang, known posthumously as Emperor Gaozu of Han. It was briefly interrupted by the Xin Dynasty of the former regent Wang Mang...

 China. It was thought that a special liquid in which the bodies were embedded (solutions containing mercury and antimony salts amongst others), may have been of a certain influence. The actual cause of the preservation—which started declining rapidly once the bodies were unearthed—was the very exceptional low temperature conditions obtained at the depths at which the tombs were located, under several layers of charcoal and clay, permitting ideal temperatures and humidity levels which were maintained throughout the seasons for centuries.
These mummies are nowadays stored in special refrigerated chambers which simulate the original conditions in which they were discovered to prevent further acceleration of putrefaction
Putrefaction
Putrefaction is one of seven stages in the decomposition of the body of a dead animal. It can be viewed, in broad terms, as the decomposition of proteins, in a process that results in the eventual breakdown of cohesion between tissues and the liquefaction of most organs.-Description:In terms of...

.

Embalming in Europe has become much more common in the more industrialized regions. It was attempted from time to time, especially during the Crusades, when crusading noblemen wished to have their bodies preserved for burial closer to home. Embalming began to come back into practice in parallel with the anatomists of the Renaissance
Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

 who needed to be able to preserve their specimens. Arterial embalming is believed to have been first practiced in the Netherlands
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

 in the 17th century by Frederik Ruysch
Frederik Ruysch
Frederik Ruysch was a Dutch botanist and anatomist, remembered for his developments in anatomical preservation and the creation of dioramas or scenes incorporating human parts...

 but his liquor balsamicum preservative was kept a secret to the grave and his methods were not widely copied.

Contemporary embalming methods advanced markedly during the American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

, which once again involved many servicemen dying far from home, and their family wishing them returned for local burial
Burial
Burial is the act of placing a person or object into the ground. This is accomplished by excavating a pit or trench, placing an object in it, and covering it over.-History:...

. Dr. Thomas Holmes
Thomas Holmes
Thomas Holmes was a mortician who is often thought of as the father of American embalming.-Childhood:He was born in New York City in 1817 to a wealthy merchant...

 received a commission from the Army Medical Corps to embalm the corpses of dead Union officers to return to their families. Military authorities also permitted private embalmers to work in military-controlled areas. The passage of Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States, serving from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865. He successfully led his country through a great constitutional, military and moral crisis – the American Civil War – preserving the Union, while ending slavery, and...

's body home for burial was made possible by embalming and it brought the possibilities and potential of embalming to a wider public notice.

In 1867, the German
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 chemist August Wilhelm von Hofmann
August Wilhelm von Hofmann
August Wilhelm von Hofmann was a German chemist.-Biography:Hofmann was born at Gießen, Grand Duchy of Hesse. Not intending originally to devote himself to physical science, he first took up the study of law and philology at Göttingen. But he then turned to chemistry, and studied under Justus von...

 discovered formaldehyde
Formaldehyde
Formaldehyde is an organic compound with the formula CH2O. It is the simplest aldehyde, hence its systematic name methanal.Formaldehyde is a colorless gas with a characteristic pungent odor. It is an important precursor to many other chemical compounds, especially for polymers...

, whose preservative properties were soon discovered and which became the foundation for modern methods of embalming, replacing previous methods based on alcohol and the use of arsenical salts.

In the 19th and early 20th centuries arsenic
Arsenic
Arsenic is a chemical element with the symbol As, atomic number 33 and relative atomic mass 74.92. Arsenic occurs in many minerals, usually in conjunction with sulfur and metals, and also as a pure elemental crystal. It was first documented by Albertus Magnus in 1250.Arsenic is a metalloid...

 was frequently used as an embalming fluid but has since been supplanted by other more effective and less toxic chemicals. There were questions about the possibility of arsenic from embalmed bodies later contaminating ground water supplies. There were also legal concerns as people suspected of murder by arsenic poisoning could claim that the levels of poison in the deceased's body were a result of embalming post mortem rather than evidence of homicide
Homicide
Homicide refers to the act of a human killing another human. Murder, for example, is a type of homicide. It can also describe a person who has committed such an act, though this use is rare in modern English...

.

Embalming is distinct from taxidermy
Taxidermy
Taxidermy is the act of mounting or reproducing dead animals for display or for other sources of study. Taxidermy can be done on all vertebrate species of animals, including mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, and amphibians...

. Embalming preserves the human body intact, whereas taxidermy is the recreation of an animal's form often using only the creature's skin mounted on an anatomical form.

Modern embalming is most often performed to ensure a better presentation of the deceased for viewing by friends and relatives - as everything else being equal, an embalmed body will look better than one that is unembalmed and putrefying. A successful viewing of the cadaver is considered by many credible authorities to be helpful in the grieving process. It allows the mourners to form a memory picture of the deceased. Embalming has the potential to prevent mourners from having to deal with the rotting and eventual putrescence of the corpse, which is important due to the stress that Americans often place on hygiene. This view has been challenged, however, by authors such as Jessica Mitford, who point out that there is no general consensus that viewing an embalmed corpse is somehow "therapeutic" to the bereaved, and that terms such as "memory picture" were invented by the undertakers themselves, who have a financial interest in selling the costly process of embalming to the public. She also points out that in many countries, embalming is rare, and that the populace of such countries are still able to grieve normally. Embalming is also a general legal requirement for international repatriation of human remains (although exceptions do occur) and by a variety of laws depending on locality, such as for extended time between death and final disposition or above ground entombment.

Terms for embalmers


The roles of a Funeral Director
Funeral director
A funeral director , also known as a mortician or undertaker, is a professional involved in the business of funeral rites. These tasks often entail the embalming and burial or cremation of the dead, as well as the planning and arrangement of the actual funeral ceremony...

 and an embalmer are different. A funeral director is a person who arranges for the final disposition of the deceased and who may or may not prepare (including embalming) the deceased for viewing (or other legal requirements). An embalmer is someone who has been trained in the art and science of embalming and may not have any contact with the family, although many people fill both roles. The term mortician is becoming out-dated, but may refer either to a funeral director or to an embalmer, or both. Embalming training commonly involves formal study in anatomy
Anatomy
Anatomy is a branch of biology and medicine that is the consideration of the structure of living things. It is a general term that includes human anatomy, animal anatomy , and plant anatomy...

, thanatology
Thanatology
Thanatology is the scientific study of death. It investigates the mechanisms and forensic aspects of death, such as bodily changes that accompany death and the post-mortem period, as well as wider social aspects related to death. It is primarily an interdisciplinary study offered as a course of...

, chemistry
Chemistry
Chemistry is the science of matter, especially its chemical reactions, but also its composition, structure and properties. Chemistry is concerned with atoms and their interactions with other atoms, and particularly with the properties of chemical bonds....

, and specific embalming theory (to widely varying levels depending on the region of the world one lives in) combined with practical instruction in a mortuary with a resultant formal qualification granted after the passing of a final practical examination and acceptance into a recognized society of professional embalmers.

Legal requirements over who can practice vary geographically; some regions or countries have no specific requirements. Additionally, in many places, embalming is not done by trained embalmers, but rather by doctors who, while they have the required anatomical knowledge, are not trained specialists in this field. Today, embalming is common practice in North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

 and New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...

 while it is somewhat less frequent in Europe. In some countries, permits or licences are required; in others it is performed only by medical practitioners, and the costs can be relatively high.

In the United States, the title of an embalmer is based largely on the state that they are licensed in. In Virginia, Maryland, a funeral director is someone who is licensed only to make arrangements and handle the business side of the funeral home, while a mortician is licensed to do these things as well as to embalm.

Modern practices


As practiced in the funeral home
Funeral home
A funeral home, funeral parlor or mortuary, is a business that provides burial and funeral services for the deceased and their families. These services may include aprepared wake and funeral, and the provision of a chapel for the funeral....

s of the Western World
Western world
The Western world, also known as the West and the Occident , is a term referring to the countries of Western Europe , the countries of the Americas, as well all countries of Northern and Central Europe, Australia and New Zealand...

 (notably North America), embalming uses several steps. Modern embalming techniques are not the result of a single practitioner, but rather the accumulation of many decades, even centuries, of research, trial and error, and invention. A standardized version follows below, but variation on techniques is very common.

The deceased is placed on the mortuary table in the supine anatomical
Supine position
The supine position is a position of the body: lying down with the face up, as opposed to the prone position, which is face down, sometimes with the hands behind the head or neck. When used in surgical procedures, it allows access to the peritoneal, thoracic and pericardial regions; as well as the...

 position with the head elevated by a head block. The first step in embalming is obviously to check that the individual is in fact deceased, and then verify the identity of the body (normally via wrist or leg tags). At this point embalmers commonly perform basic tests for signs of death, noting things such as clouded-over corneas, lividity and rigor mortis
Rigor mortis
Rigor mortis is one of the recognizable signs of death that is caused by a chemical change in the muscles after death, causing the limbs of the corpse to become stiff and difficult to move or manipulate...

 or by simply attempting to palpate a pulse in the carotid or radial artery. In modern times people awakening on the preparation table is largely the province of horror fiction
Horror fiction
Horror fiction also Horror fantasy is a philosophy of literature, which is intended to, or has the capacity to frighten its readers, inducing feelings of horror and terror. It creates an eerie atmosphere. Horror can be either supernatural or non-supernatural...

 and urban myth.

Any clothing
Clothing
Clothing refers to any covering for the human body that is worn. The wearing of clothing is exclusively a human characteristic and is a feature of nearly all human societies...

 on the corpse is removed and set aside and any personal effect such as jewelry is inventoried. A modesty cloth is sometimes placed over the genitalia. The corpse is washed in disinfectant and germicidal solutions. During this process the embalmer bends, flexes and massages the arms and legs to relieve rigor mortis
Rigor mortis
Rigor mortis is one of the recognizable signs of death that is caused by a chemical change in the muscles after death, causing the limbs of the corpse to become stiff and difficult to move or manipulate...

. The eyes are posed using an eye cap that keeps them shut and in the proper expression. The mouth may be closed via suturing with a needle and ligature, using an adhesive, or by setting a wire into the maxilla and mandible with a needle injector, a specialized device most commonly utilized in North America and unique to mortuary practice. Care is taken to make the expression look as relaxed and natural as possible and ideally a recent photograph of the deceased while still living is used as a template. The process of closing the mouth, eyes, shaving, etc. is collectively known as setting the features
Setting the features
Setting the features is a mortuary term that refers to the closing of the eyes and the mouth of a deceased person such that the cadaver is presentable as being in a state of rest and repose, and thus more suitable for viewing...

.
The actual embalming process usually involves four parts:

1. Arterial
Artery
Arteries are blood vessels that carry blood away from the heart. This blood is normally oxygenated, exceptions made for the pulmonary and umbilical arteries....

 embalming, which involves the injection of embalming chemicals into the blood vessels, usually via the right common carotid artery
Common carotid artery
In human anatomy, the common carotid artery is an artery that supplies the head and neck with oxygenated blood; it divides in the neck to form the external and internal carotid arteries. - Structure :...

. Blood and interstitial fluids are displaced by this injection and, along with excess arterial solution, are expelled from the right jugular vein
Jugular vein
The jugular veins are veins that bring deoxygenated blood from the head back to the heart via the superior vena cava.-Internal and external:There are two sets of jugular veins: external and internal....

 and collectively referred to as drainage. The embalming solution is injected with a centrifugal pump and the embalmer massages the body to break up circulatory clots as to ensure the proper distribution of the embalming fluid. This process of raising vessels with injection and drainage from a solitary location is known as a single-point injection. In cases of poor circulation of the arterial solution additional injection points (commonly the axillary
Axillary artery
In human anatomy, the axillary artery is a large blood vessel that conveys oxygenated blood to the lateral aspect of the thorax, the axilla and the upper limb...

, brachial
Brachial artery
The brachial artery is the major blood vessel of the arm.It is the continuation of the axillary artery beyond the lower margin of teres major muscle. It continues down the ventral surface of the arm until it reaches the cubital fossa at the elbow. It then divides into the radial and ulnar arteries...

 or femoral
Femoral artery
The femoral artery is a general term comprising a few large arteries in the thigh. They begin at the inguinal ligament and end just above the knee at adductor canal or Hunter's canal traversing the extent of the femur bone....

 arteries, with the ulnar
Ulnar artery
The ulnar artery is the main blood vessel, with oxygenated blood, of the medial aspect of the forearm. It arises from the brachial artery and terminates in the superficial palmar arch, which joins with the superficial branch of the radial artery...

, radial
Radial artery
In human anatomy, the radial artery is the main blood vessel, with oxygenated blood, of the lateral aspect of the forearm.-Course:The radial artery arises from the bifurcation of the brachial artery in the cubital fossa. It runs distally on the anterior part of the forearm...

 and tibial vessels if necessary) are used. The corresponding veins are commonly also raised and utilized for the purpose of drainage. Cases where more than one vessel is raised are referred to as multiple-point injection, with a reference to the number of vessels raised (i.e. a six-point injection or six-pointer). As a general rule, the more points needing to be raised, the greater the difficulty of the case. An injection utilizing both the left and right carotids is specifically referred to as a restricted cervical injection (RCI), while draining from a different site to injection (i.e. injecting arterial fluid into the right common carotid artery and draining from the right femoral vein
Femoral vein
In the human body, the femoral vein is a blood vessel that accompanies the femoral artery in the femoral sheath. It begins at the adductor canal and is a continuation of the popliteal vein...

) is referred to as a split (or sometimes cut)injection.

2. Cavity embalming refers to the replacement of internal fluids inside body cavities with embalming chemicals via the use of an aspirator
Aspirator (medical device)
A medical aspirator is a small suction machine used to remove mucus and other bodily fluids from a patient. These machines are often designed to be portable for use in ambulances and nursing homes, and can run on AC/DC or battery power. Major manufacturers include Allied Healthcare and Impact...

 and trocar
Trocar
A trocar is a medical instrument with a sharply pointed end, often three-sided, that is used inside a hollow cylinder to introduce this into blood vessels or body cavities...

. The embalmer makes a small incision just above the navel
Navel
The navel is a scar on the abdomen caused when the umbilical cord is removed from a newborn baby...

 (two inches superior and two inches to the right) and pushes the trocar in the chest and stomach cavities to puncture the hollow organs and aspirate
Nasogastric intubation
Nasogastric intubation is a medical process involving the insertion of a plastic tube through the nose, past the throat, and down into the stomach.-Uses:...

 their contents. He/she then fills the cavities with concentrated chemicals that contain formaldehyde. The incision is either sutured closed or a "trocar button" is secured into place.

3. Hypodermic embalming is a supplemental method which refers to the injection of embalming chemicals into tissue with a hypodermic needle and syringe, which is generally used as needed on a case by case basis to treat areas where arterial fluid has not been successfully distributed during the main arterial injection.

4. Surface embalming, another supplemental method, utilises embalming chemical to preserve and restore areas directly on the skins surface and other superficial areas as well as areas of damage such as from accident, decomposition, cancerous growth or skin donation.

A typical embalming takes several hours to complete. An embalming case that requires more attention or has unexpected complications could take substantially longer. The repair of an autopsy case or the restoration of a long-bone donor are two such examples.

Embalming is meant to temporarily preserve the body of a deceased person. Regardless of whether embalming is performed, the type of burial or entombment, and the materials used — such as wood or metal caskets and vaults — the body of the deceased will eventually decompose. Modern embalming is done to delay decomposition so that funeral services may take place or for the purpose of shipping the remains to a distant place for disposition.

Grooming


After the body is rewashed and dried, a moisturizing cream is applied to the face. The body will usually sit for as long as possible for observation by the embalmer. After being dressed for visitation/funeral services, cosmetics are applied to make the body appear more lifelike and to create a "memory picture" for the deceased's friends and relatives. For babies who have died, the embalmer may apply a light cosmetic massage cream after embalming to provide a natural appearance; massage cream is also used on the lips to prevent them from dehydrating, and the infant's mouth is often left open a bit for a more natural expression. If possible, the funeral director uses a light, translucent cosmetic; sometimes, heavier, opaque cosmetics are used to hide bruises, cuts, or discolored areas. Makeup is applied to the lips to mimic their natural color. Sometimes a very pale or light pink lipstick is applied on males, while brighter colored lipstick is applied to females. Hair gels or baby oil is applied to style the hair of males; while hairspray is applied to style the hair of females. Powders (especially baby powder) are applied to the body to eliminate odors, and it is also applied to the face to achieve a Matte and Fresh Effect to prevent oiliness of the corpse. Mortuary cosmetizing is not done for the same reason as make-up for living people; rather, it is designed to add depth and dimension to a person's features that lack of blood circulation has removed. Warm areas - where blood vessels in living people are superficial, such as the cheeks, chin, and knuckles - have subtle reds added to recreate this effect, while browns are added to the palpabrae (eyelids) to add depth, especially important as viewing in a casket
Casket
A casket, or jewelry box is a term for a container that is usually larger than a box, and smaller than a chest, and in the past was typically decorated...

 creates an unusual perspective rarely seen in everyday life. During the viewing, pink-colored lighting is sometimes used near the body to lend a warmer tone to the deceased's complexion.

A photograph of the deceased in good health is often sought in order to guide the embalmer's hand in restoring the body to a more lifelike appearance. Blemishes and discolorations (such as bruises, in which the discoloration is not in the circulatory system and cannot be removed by arterial injection) occasioned by the last illness, the settling of blood, or the embalming process itself are also dealt with at this time (although some embalmers utilize hypodermic bleaching agents, such as phenol based cauterants, during injection to lighten discoloration and allow for easier cosmetizing).

Clothing


In the western world, men are typically buried in business attire
Informal attire
Informal attire, also called international business attire or Western business attire is a dress code, typified by a suit and necktie, for men. On the scale of formality, informal attire is more formal than casual but less formal than semi-formal. It is more presentational than semi-casual, but...

, such as a suit or coat and tie, and women in semi-formal dresses or pant suits. In recent years, a change has occurred and many individuals are now buried in less formal clothing, such as what they would have worn on a daily basis, or other favorite attire. Clothing worn can also reflect the deceased person's profession or vocation: Priests and ministers are often dressed in their liturgical vestments, and military and law enforcement personnel often wear their uniform. Underwear, singlets, bras, briefs and hosiery are all used if the family so desires, and the deceased is dressed in them as they would be in life.

In certain instances a funeral director will request a specific style of clothing, such as a collared shirt or blouse, in order to cover traumatic marks or autopsy
Autopsy
An autopsy—also known as a post-mortem examination, necropsy , autopsia cadaverum, or obduction—is a highly specialized surgical procedure that consists of a thorough examination of a corpse to determine the cause and manner of death and to evaluate any disease or injury that may be present...

 incisions. In other cases clothing may be cut down the back and placed on the deceased from the front to ensure a proper fit. In many areas of Asia and Europe, the custom of dressing the body in a specially designed shroud
Shroud
Shroud usually refers to an item, such as a cloth, that covers or protects some other object. The term is most often used in reference to burial sheets, winding-cloths or winding-sheets, such as the famous Shroud of Turin or Tachrichim that Jews are dressed in for burial...

/funeral gown, rather than in clothing used by the living, is preferred.

A lesser known procedure of dressing the deceased is that, in many cases, the upper body clothing is cut up the back and placed over the deceased, or "draped" on the front of the body with the arms straight out. This is since the rigid state of the deceased makes it impossible to bend the arms to place them through sleeves in clothing. Popular culture often ignores this, showing zombies raised from the grave wearing fully intact clothing. A notable exception is the film The Crow
The Crow (film)
The Crow is a 1994 American action film based on the 1989 comic book of the same name by James O'Barr. The film was written by David J. Schow and John Shirley, and directed by Alex Proyas...

which accurately depicts a man raised from the grave having his coat and shirt cut up the back.

After the deceased has been dressed, they are placed in the casket
Casket
A casket, or jewelry box is a term for a container that is usually larger than a box, and smaller than a chest, and in the past was typically decorated...

 (the term casket
Casket
A casket, or jewelry box is a term for a container that is usually larger than a box, and smaller than a chest, and in the past was typically decorated...

 is derived from older usage to refer to a "jewel box", it is called a coffin
Coffin
A coffin is a funerary box used in the display and containment of dead people – either for burial or cremation.Contemporary North American English makes a distinction between "coffin", which is generally understood to denote a funerary box having six sides in plan view, and "casket", which...

 when the container is anthropoid [a stretched hexagon] in form) for the various funeral rites. It is common for photographs, notes, cards and favorite personal items to be placed in the casket with the deceased. Even bulky and expensive items, such as electric guitars, are occasionally interred with a body. In some ways this mirrors the ancient practice of placing grave goods
Grave goods
Grave goods, in archaeology and anthropology, are the items buried along with the body.They are usually personal possessions, supplies to smooth the deceased's journey into the afterlife or offerings to the gods. Grave goods are a type of votive deposit...

 with a person for use/enjoyment in the afterlife. In traditional Chinese culture, paper substitutes of the goods are buried or cremated
Cremation
Cremation is the process of reducing bodies to basic chemical compounds such as gasses and bone fragments. This is accomplished through high-temperature burning, vaporization and oxidation....

 with the deceased instead, as well as paper money
Joss paper
Joss paper , also known as ghost money, are sheets of paper and/or paper-crafts made into burnt offerings which are common in traditional Chinese religious practices including the veneration of the deceased on holidays and special occasions...

 specifically purchased for the occasion.

Embalming chemicals


Embalming chemicals are a variety of preservatives, sanitizers, disinfectant agents and additives used in modern embalming to temporarily delay decomposition
Decomposition
Decomposition is the process by which organic material is broken down into simpler forms of matter. The process is essential for recycling the finite matter that occupies physical space in the biome. Bodies of living organisms begin to decompose shortly after death...

 and restore a natural appearance for viewing a body after death. A mixture of these chemicals is known as embalming fluid and is used to preserve deceased individuals, sometimes only until the funeral
Funeral
A funeral is a ceremony for celebrating, sanctifying, or remembering the life of a person who has died. Funerary customs comprise the complex of beliefs and practices used by a culture to remember the dead, from interment itself, to various monuments, prayers, and rituals undertaken in their honor...

, other times indefinitely.

Typical embalming fluid contains a mixture of formaldehyde
Formaldehyde
Formaldehyde is an organic compound with the formula CH2O. It is the simplest aldehyde, hence its systematic name methanal.Formaldehyde is a colorless gas with a characteristic pungent odor. It is an important precursor to many other chemical compounds, especially for polymers...

, glutaraldehyde
Glutaraldehyde
Glutaraldehyde is an organic compound with the formula CH22. A pungent colorless oily liquid, glutaraldehyde is used to disinfect medical and dental equipment...

, ethanol
Ethanol
Ethanol, also called ethyl alcohol, pure alcohol, grain alcohol, or drinking alcohol, is a volatile, flammable, colorless liquid. It is a psychoactive drug and one of the oldest recreational drugs. Best known as the type of alcohol found in alcoholic beverages, it is also used in thermometers, as a...

, humectants, and wetting agents and other solvents. The formaldehyde content generally ranges from 5 to 35 percent and the ethanol content may range from 9 to 56 percent.

Specialist embalming


Badly decomposing bodies, trauma cases, frozen and drowned bodies, and those to be transported for long distances also require special treatment beyond that for the "normal" case. The restoration of bodies and features damaged by accident or disease is commonly called restorative art or demisurgery and all qualified embalmers have some degree of training and practice in it. For such cases, the benefit of embalming is startlingly apparent. In contrast though, many people have unreasonable expectations of what a dead body should look like, due to the unrealistic portrayal of "dead" bodies (usually by live actors) in movies and television shows. Viewers generally have an unrealistic expectation that a body going through decomposition should look as it did before death. Ironically, the work of a skilled embalmer often results in the deceased appearing natural enough that the embalmer appears to have done nothing at all. Normally a better result can be achieved when a picture and the decedent's regular makeups (if worn) are available to help make the deceased appear more as they did when alive.

Embalming autopsy
Autopsy
An autopsy—also known as a post-mortem examination, necropsy , autopsia cadaverum, or obduction—is a highly specialized surgical procedure that consists of a thorough examination of a corpse to determine the cause and manner of death and to evaluate any disease or injury that may be present...

 cases differs from standard embalming because the nature of the post-mortem examination irrevocably disrupts the circulatory system, due to the removal of the organs and viscera. In these cases, a six-point injection is made through the two illiac or femoral arteries, subclavian or axillary vessels, and common carotids, with the viscera treated separately with cavity fluid or a special embalming powder in a viscera bag. In many morgues in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 and New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...

, these necessary vessels are carefully preserved during the autopsy; in countries where embalming is less common, such as Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

and Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

, they are routinely excised.

Long-term preservation requires different techniques, such as using stronger preservative chemicals and multiple injection sites to ensure thorough saturation of body tissues.

Embalming for anatomy education


A rather different process is used for cadaver
Cadaver
A cadaver is a dead human body.Cadaver may also refer to:* Cadaver tomb, tomb featuring an effigy in the form of a decomposing body* Cadaver , a video game* cadaver A command-line WebDAV client for Unix....

s embalmed for dissection by doctors and medical students. Here, the first priority is for long term preservation, not presentation. As such, medical embalmers use embalming fluids that contain concentrated formaldehyde (37–40%, known as formalin)/gluteraldehyde as well as phenol
Phenol
Phenol, also known as carbolic acid, phenic acid, is an organic compound with the chemical formula C6H5OH. It is a white crystalline solid. The molecule consists of a phenyl , bonded to a hydroxyl group. It is produced on a large scale as a precursor to many materials and useful compounds...

 and are made without dyes or perfumes. Many embalming chemical companies make specialized anatomical embalming fluids.

Anatomical embalming is performed into a closed circulatory system. The fluid is usually injected with an embalming machine into an artery under high pressure and flow and allowed to swell and saturate the tissues. After the deceased is left to sit for a number of hours, the venous system is generally opened and the fluid allowed to drain out, although many anatomical embalmers do not use any drainage technique.

Anatomical embalmers may choose to use gravity-feed embalming, where the container dispensing the embalming fluid is elevated above the body's level and fluid is slowly introduced over an extended time, sometimes as long as several days. Unlike standard arterial embalming, no drainage occurs and the body distends extensively with fluid. The distension eventually reduces, often under extended (up to six months) refrigeration, leaving a fairly normal appearance. There is no separate cavity treatment of the internal organs. Anatomically embalmed cadavers have a typically uniform grey colouration, due both to the high formaldehyde concentration mixed with the blood and to the lack of red colouration agents commonly added to standard, non-medical, embalming fluids. Formaldehyde mixed with blood causes the grey discoloration also known as "formaldehyde grey" or "embalmer's grey".

Religious practices


There is much difference of opinion amongst different faiths as to the permissibility of embalming. A brief overview of some of the larger faiths positions are examined below.
  • Most branches of the Christian
    Christian
    A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

     faith generally allow embalming. Some bodies within Eastern Orthodoxy profess an absolute ban against embalming except when required by law or other necessity, while others may discourage but do not prohibit it. In general the decision on embalming is one that is dictated by the personal preference of the family rather than a specific church policy.

  • The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does not discourage or prohibit embalming. Often, due to the custom of church members dressing the deceased, embalming is given preference.

  • Members of Iglesia ni Cristo
    Iglesia ni Cristo
    Iglesia ni Cristo also known as INC, is the largest entirely indigenous Christian religious organization that originated from the Philippines and the largest independent church in Asia. Due to a number of similarities, some Protestant writers describe the INC's doctrines as restorationist in...

     allows embalming for the view of their loved ones. It forbids autopsy and cremation because they believe the body of the deceased is sacred and should be cared for with respect. They dress and groom the deceased as they looked in life. The preferred method is arterial embalming, in which formaldehyde is injected into the body.

  • Many authorities hold that Hinduism
    Hinduism
    Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

     does not accept embalming. In practice, this is not an adamant prohibition, and embalming for those of Hindu faith is known to occur, generally for repatriation to India or the South Pacific and for the purposes of viewing and funerary rites at the family home prior to final cremation. Traditionally, a dead body should be cremated before sunset, and embalming is neither common nor widespread.

  • Some Neopagans generally discourage embalming, believing it unnatural to disrupt the physical recycling of the body to the Earth in the mistaken belief that embalmed bodies do not decompose. They encourage the use of green graveyards, where the body is placed in a biodegradable casket and buried under a tree instead of a tombstone.

  • Members of the Bahá'í Faith
    Bahá'í Faith
    The Bahá'í Faith is a monotheistic religion founded by Bahá'u'lláh in 19th-century Persia, emphasizing the spiritual unity of all humankind. There are an estimated five to six million Bahá'ís around the world in more than 200 countries and territories....

     are not embalmed. Instead, the body is washed and placed in a cotton, linen or silk shroud. The body is to be buried within one hour's journey from the place of death, if this is feasible. Cremation is also forbidden.

  • Zoroastrians traditionally hold a type of sky burial
    Sky burial
    Sky burial, or ritual dissection, is a funerary practice in Tibet, wherein a human corpse was incised in certain locations and placed on a mountaintop, exposing it to the elements and animals – especially to predatory birds. The locations of preparation and sky burial are understood in the...

     within a structure known as a Tower of Silence in which the body is exposed to weathering and predation to dispose of the remains, and thus embalming the body is contrary to their funeral designs. This is due to the Zoroastrian belief that the dead body is unclean and the pure elements
    Classical element
    Many philosophies and worldviews have a set of classical elements believed to reflect the simplest essential parts and principles of which anything consists or upon which the constitution and fundamental powers of anything are based. Most frequently, classical elements refer to ancient beliefs...

     of earth and fire should not be allowed to come into contact with it. This practice is not universally performed any more, and many Iranian Zoroastrians perform traditional cremations and burials instead.

  • Traditional Jewish law forbids embalming, and burial is to be done as soon as possible - preferably within 24 hours. However, under certain circumstances, burial may be delayed if it is impossible to bury a person immediately, or to permit the deceased to be buried in Israel. Guidance of a Rabbi or the local chevra kadisha
    Chevra Kadisha
    A chevra kadisha is a loosely structured but generally closed organization of Jewish men and women who see to it that the bodies of Jews are prepared for burial according to Halacha and are protected from desecration, willful or not, until burial...

    (Jewish Burial Society) should be sought regarding any questions, as particular circumstances may justify leniencies. Notably, the Biblical Joseph
    Joseph (Hebrew Bible)
    Joseph is an important character in the Hebrew bible, where he connects the story of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in Canaan to the subsequent story of the liberation of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt....

     was, according to the (Genesis 50:26) embalmed in the Egyptian fashion as was his father Israel (Jacob) (Genesis 50:2).

  • Muslims are required to be buried within 24 hours of death, if possible. Embalming is forbidden. The body is washed and prepared specifically for interment. This procedure is to be done according to the last will of the deceased, usually by a close relative of the deceased who is of the same gender. He or she is then dressed in a plain white burial shroud (for women, the hair, ears and neck are covered as they were in life, preserving her dignity before men who are not closely related; men are buried in their ihram clothing
    Ihram clothing
    Ihram clothing includes men's and women's garments worn by Muslim people during the Ihram pilgrimage . Men's garments often consist of two white un-hemmed sheets and are universal in appearance. The top is draped over the torso and the bottom is secured by a belt; plus a pair of sandals...

    , or pilgrim garb, as worn during the Hajj in Mecca). Muslims believe that the spirit remains with the body from death until after burial, which is the reason for same-day burial, as well as the aforementioned procedures; the body is treated with the same care and respect as in life so as to not cause undue stress to the deceased. For the same reason, cremation is also forbidden. Prayers and readings of the Qur'an are spoken aloud to give comfort to the deceased, and the body is not left alone even for a time following the burial, during which the deceased is buried (preferably without a casket) on his or her right side, facing Mecca.
  • In Islamic countries, a plain white burial shroud called a kafans, consisting of 3 pieces of white cotton clothing, is used to wrap the body.

In literature

  • In Lenore The Little Dead Girl by Roman Dirge
    Roman Dirge
    Roman Dirge is an artist and magician, and the creator of the Lenore comic-book series; he currently lives in Los Angeles, California.-Career:...

    , Lenore accidentally resurrects the cursed vampire
    Vampire
    Vampires are mythological or folkloric beings who subsist by feeding on the life essence of living creatures, regardless of whether they are undead or a living person...

     Ragamuffin
    Ragamuffin
    The Ragamuffin is a breed of domestic cat that first made its appearance in 1994. Ragamuffins are notable for their friendly personalities and thick, rabbitlike fur.-General description:...

     (who was transformed into a rag doll) with a drop of blood. When he fails to regain his vampire body and powers, he learns that Lenore has been embalmed. Her altered blood interacts with his curse in an unforeseen way, leaving him forever trapped as a rag doll.
  • The Loved One
    The Loved One
    The Loved One: An Anglo-American Tragedy is a short satirical novel by British novelist Evelyn Waugh about the funeral business in Los Angeles, the British expatriate community in Hollywood, and the film industry.-Conception:...

    , a satiric novel by Evelyn Waugh
    Evelyn Waugh
    Arthur Evelyn St. John Waugh , known as Evelyn Waugh, was an English writer of novels, travel books and biographies. He was also a prolific journalist and reviewer...

     that was the basis for a movie of the same name
    The Loved One (film)
    The Loved One is a 1965 black comedy film about the funeral business in Los Angeles, which is based on The Loved One: An Anglo-American Tragedy , a short satirical novel by Evelyn Waugh...

     directed by Terry Southern
    Terry Southern
    Terry Southern was an American author, essayist, screenwriter and university lecturer, noted for his distinctive satirical style...

    , is set in the funeral industry of Hollywood, California
    California
    California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

    . Specifically, the story is a spoof of Forest Lawn
    Forest Lawn Cemetery, Buffalo
    Forest Lawn Cemetery in Buffalo, New York was founded in 1849 by Charles E. Clark. It covers over 250 acres and over 152,000 are buried there. Notable graves include U.S. President Millard Fillmore, singer Rick James, and inventor Lawrence Dale Bell...

    -style mortuaries. The story centers on Dennis Barlow, a British expatriate who falls in love with Aimee Thanatogenos, a cosmetician at Whispering Glades Mortuary. This brings him into competition with Mr. Joyboy, the mortuary's chief embalmer who lusts after Aimee. In the movie, Mr. Joyboy (Rod Steiger
    Rod Steiger
    Rodney Stephen "Rod" Steiger was an Academy Award-winning American actor known for his performances in such films as On the Waterfront, The Big Knife, Oklahoma!, The Harder They Fall, Across the Bridge, The Pawnbroker, Doctor Zhivago, In the Heat of the Night, and Waterloo as well as the...

    ) is shown shaping the face of Dennis' late uncle (John Gielgud
    John Gielgud
    Sir Arthur John Gielgud, OM, CH was an English actor, director, and producer. A descendant of the renowned Terry acting family, he achieved early international acclaim for his youthful, emotionally expressive Hamlet which broke box office records on Broadway in 1937...

    ) into ghoulish shapes.

Onscreen, in film

  • Many horror film
    Horror film
    Horror films seek to elicit a negative emotional reaction from viewers by playing on the audience's most primal fears. They often feature scenes that startle the viewer through the means of macabre and the supernatural, thus frequently overlapping with the fantasy and science fiction genres...

    s dealing with animate mummies focus on gruesome aspect of Ancient Egyptian
    Ancient Egypt
    Ancient Egypt was an ancient civilization of Northeastern Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile River in what is now the modern country of Egypt. Egyptian civilization coalesced around 3150 BC with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under the first pharaoh...

     embalming practises, frequently having them embalmed alive as punishment for some transgression.
  • In the end of the Vincent Price
    Vincent Price
    Vincent Leonard Price, Jr. was an American actor, well known for his distinctive voice and serio-comic attitude in a series of horror films made in the latter part of his career.-Early life and career:Price was born in St...

     film The Abominable Dr. Phibes
    The Abominable Dr. Phibes
    The Abominable Dr. Phibes is a 1971 horror film starring Vincent Price. Its art deco sets, dark humor and performance by Price has made the film and its sequel Dr. Phibes Rises Again classics.-Plot:...

    the central villain rather ludicrously embalms himself to be forever with his dead wife in the final sequence. This does not stop his resurrection for the sequel.
  • In the film The Godfather
    The Godfather
    The Godfather is a 1972 American epic crime film directed by Francis Ford Coppola, based on the 1969 novel by Mario Puzo. With a screenplay by Puzo, Coppola and an uncredited Robert Towne, the film stars Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan, Robert Duvall, Sterling Hayden, John Marley, Richard...

    , Don Corleone (Marlon Brando
    Marlon Brando
    Marlon Brando, Jr. was an American movie star and political activist. "Unchallenged as the most important actor in modern American Cinema" according to the St...

    ) asks for an extensive embalming as a return favor from an undertaker whom he had assisted earlier. The corpse is the Don's son Sonny (James Caan) who had been brutally shot with dozens of machine-gun bullets.
  • In the film Kissed
    Kissed
    Kissed is a 1996 Canadian film, directed and co-written by Lynne Stopkewich, based on Barbara Gowdy's short story "We So Seldom Look On Love"...

    the lead female character is a necrophiliac who is training to become an embalmer.
  • In the film My Girl
    My Girl (film)
    My Girl is a 1991 drama film directed by Howard Zieff and written by Laurice Elehwany. The film depicts the coming-of-age of a young girl who faces many different emotional highs and lows and stars Dan Aykroyd and Jamie Lee Curtis in their first film together since 1983's Trading Places. The film...

    , one of the principal roles is mortician Harry Sultenfuss, whose first line is a deadpan "Tell them I'll call back, I'm just embalming my geography teacher" (which he is). Several plot devices depend on differing perceptions of what is appropriate in the grooming of various corpses.

Onscreen, in television

  • The television show Six Feet Under, set in a funeral home, has brought embalming and funeral practice back into the public eye. The character Hector Federico "Rico" Diaz is a full-time embalmer employed by the funeral home in the show.
  • In Season 4, Episode 14 of Criminal Minds
    Criminal Minds
    Criminal Minds is an American police procedural drama that premiered September 22, 2005, on CBS. The series follows a team of profilers from the FBI's Behavioral Analysis Unit based in Quantico, Virginia. The BAU is part of the FBI National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime...

    , the killer is embalming his victims so he can spend more time with them.
  • In the TV Show, CSI: NY
    CSI: NY
    CSI: NY is an American police procedural television series that premiered on September 22, 2004, on CBS. The show follows the investigations of a team of NYPD forensic scientists and police officers as they unveil the circumstances behind mysterious and unusual deaths as well as other crimes...

    (Season 4, Episode 1) a person is shown being embalmed with orange dish soap while he was still alive. This was to make him confess to a murder he witnessed.
  • Artist Mitsukazu Mihara
    Mitsukazu Mihara
    is an influential Japanese illustrator who helped to influence the Gothic Lolita look through her illustrations, particularly as the cover illustrator for the first eight volumes of the Gothic & Lolita Bible...

     created a series titled The Embalmer
    The Embalmer
    is a manga series written and illustrated by Mitsukazu Mihara. It is serialized within the magazine magazine Feel Young, and currently has been collected into 6 volumes by Shodensha. The Embalmer was previously licensed for English release by Tokyopop, and four volumes have been released. The...

    (Shigeshoshi). It focuses on the difficulties the main character, an embalmer named Shinjyurou, faces in Japan, where embalming is generally looked down upon. In 2007, TV Tokyo
    TV Tokyo
    is a television station headquartered in Toranomon, Minato, Tokyo, Japan. Also known as , a blend of "terebi" and "Tokyo", it is the key station of TX Network. It is one of the major Tokyo television stations, particularly specializing in anime...

     aired a drama series based on the manga, starring Wada Masato as Shinjyurou.
  • In an episode of Quantum Leap, Sam leaps into a small-town mortician. He learns that the young woman he is embalming did not in fact commit suicide and must prove that she was murdered. The episode also features a corpse beautician. Upon her preparation to begin making-up the body, Sam asks her "not to overdo it; keep it natural."
  • In "Marine Down" - Season 1, Episode 9 of NCIS
    NCIS (TV series)
    NCIS, formerly known as NCIS: Naval Criminal Investigative Service, is an American police procedural drama television series revolving around a fictional team of special agents from the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, which conducts criminal investigations involving the U.S...

    , a marine major, temporarily assigned to Columbia, is embalmed alive to cover up the theft of US $2 million by a CIA agent gone rogue
  • In the film Tales from the Crypt
    Tales from the Crypt (film)
    Tales from the Crypt is a British horror movie, made in 1972 by Amicus Productions. It is an anthology film consisting of five separate segments, based on stories from EC Comics. Only two of the stories, however, are actually from EC's Tales from the Crypt...

    , Richard Greene
    Richard Greene
    Richard Marius Joseph Greene was a noted English film and television actor. A matinee idol who appeared in more than 40 films, he was perhaps best known for the lead role in the long-running British TV series The Adventures of Robin Hood, which ran for 143 episodes from 1955 to 1960.It has been...

     portrays a character who is killed in a car accident and then magically wished back to life forever, after he has been embalmed. As a result, he awakens in excruciating pain and there is no cure; he will be in physical agony permanently.
  • During the November 23, 1998 edition of Raw is War
    WWE RAW
    WWE Raw ) is a sports entertainment television program for WWE that currently airs on the USA Network in the United States...

    , The Undertaker and Paul Bearer attempted to embalm Stone Cold Steve Austin
    Stone Cold Steve Austin
    Steve Austin , better known by his ring name "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, is an American film and television actor and retired professional wrestler...

     alive in order to make him experience agonizing pain. The embalming is interrupted at the last possible moment when The Undertaker is attacked by his on-screen half-brother Kane
    Kane (wrestler)
    Glenn Thomas Jacobs is a Spanish-born American professional wrestler and actor better known by his ring name, Kane. He is signed to WWE, appearing on its SmackDown brand, but is currently inactive due to injury....

    .

Non-fictional depictions of embalming in documentaries and reality TV

  • The reality TV show Family Plots
    Family Plots
    Family Plots is a critically acclaimed docu-series television show that followed the ongoing events and the employees that work at the family-run Poway Bernardo Mortuary in Poway, California...

    , which was shown on the A&E Network
    A&E Network
    The A&E Network is a United States-based cable and satellite television network with headquarters in New York City and offices in Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit, London, Los Angeles and Stamford. A&E also airs in Canada and Latin America. Initially named the Arts & Entertainment Network, A&E launched...

     often gave viewers a behind-the-scenes look into the embalming room. The embalmer working at the mortuary at the time, Shonna Wissmiller Smith, had become a minor celebrity.

Notable embalmings

  • Perhaps the most famous embalmed body of the 20th century is that of Vladimir Lenin
    Vladimir Lenin
    Vladimir Ilyich Lenin was a Russian Marxist revolutionary and communist politician who led the October Revolution of 1917. As leader of the Bolsheviks, he headed the Soviet state during its initial years , as it fought to establish control of Russia in the Russian Civil War and worked to create a...

    , which continues to draw crowds decades after his death. Lenin's body is embalmed since his death in 1924 and is seen on public display in Lenin's Tomb
    Lenin's Mausoleum
    Lenin's Mausoleum also known as Lenin's Tomb, situated in Red Square in the center of Moscow, is the mausoleum that serves as the current resting place of Vladimir Lenin. His embalmed body has been on public display there since shortly after his death in 1924...

    .

  • The botched embalming of Pius XII (1876 - pope 1939–1958) by a charlatan doctor—which only sped up the rate of decomposition—led to his body turning black and his nose falling off while lying in state, and the body disintegrated in the coffin. The Swiss Guards stationed around Pius XII's body were forced to change shifts every ten to fifteen minutes since the body's odor caused some guards to pass out. The doctor who performed the embalming had also taken photos of the Pontiff in his death throes and intended to sell them to tabloids. The Italian tabloids refused to buy the photos, and the doctor was banned from entering the Vatican City-State by John XXIII, who furthermore prohibited any photography
    Photography
    Photography is the art, science and practice of creating durable images by recording light or other electromagnetic radiation, either electronically by means of an image sensor or chemically by means of a light-sensitive material such as photographic film...

     of a deceased Pope until the body is properly vested and laid out.
  • Pope John XXIII
    Pope John XXIII
    -Papal election:Following the death of Pope Pius XII in 1958, Roncalli was elected Pope, to his great surprise. He had even arrived in the Vatican with a return train ticket to Venice. Many had considered Giovanni Battista Montini, Archbishop of Milan, a possible candidate, but, although archbishop...

    , (1881 - pope 1958-1963) body is on display in an altar on the main floor of the Basilica of Saint Peter after having been exhumed from the grottoes beneath the main altar and has retained an extremely well preserved state. If a body's remains do not decompose, contrary to expectations, it is often treated as a miracle. However, the case of John XXIII's body did not enjoy the same acclamation, as it was held to have been due to embalming and adipocere
    Adipocere
    Adipocere , also known as corpse, grave or mortuary wax, is a wax-like organic substance formed by the anaerobic bacterial hydrolysis of fat in tissue, such as body fat in corpses...

     formation.
  • Saint Pope Pius X
    Pope Pius X
    Pope Saint Pius X , born Giuseppe Melchiorre Sarto, was the 257th Pope of the Catholic Church, serving from 1903 to 1914. He was the first pope since Pope Pius V to be canonized. Pius X rejected modernist interpretations of Catholic doctrine, promoting traditional devotional practices and orthodox...

    , (1835 - pope 1903-1914) body is in a crystal coffin, in the Chapel of the Presentation of the Virgin Mary. On February 17, 1952, Pius X's body was transferred from the crypt of the Vatican grotto. The pontiff's body dressed in pontifical robes, while the face and hands are covered with silver. He lies within a glass and bronze-work sarcophagus for the faithful to see. Papal physicians had been in the habit of removing organs to aid the embalming process. Pius X expressly prohibited this, however, and none of his successors have allowed the practice to be reinstituted.
  • Murdered civil rights activist Medgar Evers
    Medgar Evers
    Medgar Wiley Evers was an African American civil rights activist from Mississippi involved in efforts to overturn segregation at the University of Mississippi...

     was so well embalmed that a viable autopsy
    Autopsy
    An autopsy—also known as a post-mortem examination, necropsy , autopsia cadaverum, or obduction—is a highly specialized surgical procedure that consists of a thorough examination of a corpse to determine the cause and manner of death and to evaluate any disease or injury that may be present...

     was able to be performed on his corpse decades after his death and this helped secure the conviction of his killer.
  • Famous Russian surgeon and scientist N. I. Pirogov, was embalmed after his death in 1881. He was embalmed using the technique he himself developed. His body rests in a church in Vinnitsa
    Vinnytsia
    Vinnytsia is a city located on the banks of the Southern Bug, in central Ukraine. It is the administrative center of Vinnytsia Oblast.-Names:...

    , Ukraine. In contrast to the corpse of Lenin, which undergoes thorough maintenance in a special underground clinic twice a week, the body of Pirogov rests untouched and unchanging - it is said that only dust has to be brushed off of it. It resides at room temperature in a glass-lid coffin (while Lenin's body is preserved at a constant low temperature).
  • Abraham Lincoln
    Abraham Lincoln
    Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States, serving from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865. He successfully led his country through a great constitutional, military and moral crisis – the American Civil War – preserving the Union, while ending slavery, and...

     was embalmed after his assassination in 1865. In order to prevent anyone stealing Lincoln's body, Lincoln's eldest son Robert
    Robert Todd Lincoln
    Robert Todd Lincoln was an American lawyer and Secretary of War, and the first son of President Abraham Lincoln and Mary Todd Lincoln...

     called for Lincoln's exhumation in 1901 to be buried in a concrete vault in the burial room of his tomb
    Lincoln Tomb
    Lincoln's Tomb in Oak Ridge Cemetery, Springfield, Illinois, is the final resting place of the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, his wife, Mary Todd Lincoln, and three of their four sons. The monument is owned and administered by the State of Illinois as Lincoln Tomb State...

     in Springfield, Illinois
    Springfield, Illinois
    Springfield is the third and current capital of the US state of Illinois and the county seat of Sangamon County with a population of 117,400 , making it the sixth most populated city in the state and the second most populated Illinois city outside of the Chicago Metropolitan Area...

    . Fearing that his body would have been stolen in the interim, Lincoln's coffin was opened, and his features were still recognizable, thirty-six years after his death.
  • Rosalia Lombardo
    Rosalia Lombardo
    Rosalia Lombardo was an Italian child born in 1918 in Palermo, Sicily. She died of pneumonia on December 6, 1920. Rosalia's father, General Lombardo, was sorely grieved upon her death, so he approached Alfredo Salafia, a noted embalmer, to preserve her...

    , who died at age two on 6 December 1920 and was one of the last corpses to make it to the Capuchin catacombs of Palermo
    Capuchin catacombs of Palermo
    The Capuchin Catacombs of Palermo are burial catacombs in Palermo, Sicily, southern Italy...

    , Sicily before the local authorities banned the practice. Nicknamed the 'Sleeping Beauty', Rosalia's body is still perfectly intact. Embalmed by Alfredo Salafia, she is in a glass case, looking very much like a surreal doll.
  • Georgi Dimitrov
    Georgi Dimitrov
    Georgi Dimitrov Mikhaylov , also known as Georgi Mikhaylovich Dimitrov , was a Bulgarian Communist politician...

     was embalmed and placed on display in the Sofia Georgi Dimitrov Mausoleum. After the fall of Communism in Bulgaria, his body was buried in 1990 in the Central cemetery of Sofia.
  • Mao Zedong
    Mao Zedong
    Mao Zedong, also transliterated as Mao Tse-tung , and commonly referred to as Chairman Mao , was a Chinese Communist revolutionary, guerrilla warfare strategist, Marxist political philosopher, and leader of the Chinese Revolution...

     was embalmed after he died of Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
    Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
    Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis , also referred to as Lou Gehrig's disease, is a form of motor neuron disease caused by the degeneration of upper and lower neurons, located in the ventral horn of the spinal cord and the cortical neurons that provide their efferent input...

     on September 9, 1976. Ho Chi Minh
    Ho Chi Minh
    Hồ Chí Minh , born Nguyễn Sinh Cung and also known as Nguyễn Ái Quốc, was a Vietnamese Marxist-Leninist revolutionary leader who was prime minister and president of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam...

     and Kim Il-Sung
    Kim Il-sung
    Kim Il-sung was a Korean communist politician who led the Democratic People's Republic of Korea from its founding in 1948 until his death in 1994. He held the posts of Prime Minister from 1948 to 1972 and President from 1972 to his death...

     likewise were embalmed for public display as part of the personality cult common in Communist states.
  • Klement Gottwald
    Klement Gottwald
    Klement Gottwald was a Czechoslovakian Communist politician, longtime leader of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia , prime minister and president of Czechoslovakia.-Early life:...

    , who died in 1953, just five days after attending Stalin's funeral in Moscow on 9 March, was embalmed and displayed in a mausoleum at the site of the Jan Žižka
    Jan Žižka
    Jan Žižka z Trocnova a Kalicha , Czech general and Hussite leader, follower of Jan Hus, was born at small village Trocnov in Bohemia, into a gentried family. He was nicknamed "One-eyed Žižka"...

     monument on Vítkov hill in Prague. However in 1962 due to a botched embalming, the body was decomposing and had to be removed and cremated.
  • Eva Perón
    Eva Perón
    María Eva Duarte de Perón was the second wife of President Juan Perón and served as the First Lady of Argentina from 1946 until her death in 1952. She is often referred to as simply Eva Perón, or by the affectionate Spanish language diminutive Evita.She was born in the village of Los Toldos in...

     was embalmed by Dr. Pedro Ara ordered by her husband Juan Perón. The body was preserved to look like it was in a sleep
    Sleep
    Sleep is a naturally recurring state characterized by reduced or absent consciousness, relatively suspended sensory activity, and inactivity of nearly all voluntary muscles. It is distinguished from quiet wakefulness by a decreased ability to react to stimuli, and is more easily reversible than...

    -like state. The procedure worked and the body showed no signs of decomposition when Eva was interred at her final resting place many years after the initial procedure.
  • Kemal Ataturk whose sarcophagus lies at Anıtkabir
    Anitkabir
    Anıtkabir is the mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the leader of the Turkish War of Independence and the founder and first president of the Republic of Turkey...

     in Ankara, Turkey. Only two people are authorised to view his body: the General of the Armed Forces and the Physician in charge of checking the state of his body.
  • Ferdinand Marcos
    Ferdinand Marcos
    Ferdinand Emmanuel Edralin Marcos, Sr. was a Filipino leader and an authoritarian President of the Philippines from 1965 to 1986. He was a lawyer, member of the Philippine House of Representatives and a member of the Philippine Senate...

     was embalmed in Hawaii upon his death. His body was flown home and is currently on display in Batac, Ilocos Norte.

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