You’d probably be surprised how many everyday objects and common things have ridiculous, bizarre, or even hilarious origin stories. Like the stethoscope! This ingenious piece of medical equipment, which became an inseparable part of a doctor’s image, was actually invented under quite amusing circumstances. Back in the day (the 19th century, to be precise), when doctors would rely on laying their ears on the patients body to hear their heartbeat, one physician, Rene Laennec, felt uncomfortable examining a female patient that close, so he took a piece of paper, rolled it up and, voila! Your first stethoscope was created!

“L’Inconnue de la Seine” was a woman whose death mask fascinated hundreds and saved thousands

However, some interesting stories have much grimmer beginnings. L’Inconnue de la Seine is a morbid icon in the art world, a death mask that feels uncanny to look at as it combines two things that usually don’t belong together. A portrait of a dead person and an utter sense of peace.

Although the exact origins are unknown, it is widely believed that the unidentified young woman whose death mask fascinated hundreds and saved thousands, was likely a victim of suicide. The story says that her body was pulled out of the River Seine in the late 1880s and showed no signs of violence, thus the suicide claim. Considering the state of her skin and features, some specialists have estimated the girl’s age to be no greater than 16 years. The pathologist at the Paris Morgue was reportedly so fascinated by the beautiful woman that he made a wax death mask.

Image credits: Nicolas Halftermeyer

The pathologist wasn’t the only person charmed by her calmness and beauty as numerous copies of the death mask were created, to the point where many Parisians kept it at home as a fashionable morbid fixture. Some people dwelled on the expression on the girls face. Famously, Albert Camus compared the girl’s smile to that of Mona Lisa’s, inviting many speculations about her status, circumstances, and death.

Image credits: Megan Rosenbloom

The image spread widely through history, inspiring many art pieces, stories, and novels. Some historians and scholars even note that The Unknown Woman of the Seine was a fashion icon with women trying to model their looks on her.

Image credits: Richard Jonkman

Image credits: George Hodan

Peter Safar and Asmund Laerdal, the creators of the first aid mannequin Resusci Anne, chose the Seine woman’s death mask as the face of the CPR procedure doll. As the mannequin was used for practicing CPR steps, L’Inconnue de la Seine has been dubbed the most kissed face of all time.


Image credits: Till Krech


Image credits: John Haslam

We’re all aware that the CPR mannequin is not alive. But not many realize how actually dead it is. Quite a horrifying thought!

Image credits: Phil Parker