The mask of King Tutenkhamun was the lowest part of the sarcophagus made by the Egyptians for good ol' King Tut when he died. It would have been placed directly over his face and would have been a likeness of his actual face. Clearly, a lot of time was taken in the making of this mask.
The journey of the dead was very important to the Egyptians, especially the journey of their Pharaohs as evidenced by the construction of huge tombs and pyramids. The sarcophagus was designed to protect the body after death and to help preserve it so that it could be used in the afterlife. This mask could possibly have been for use in the afterlife along with the belongings he was found with.
There's lots of gold used in the making of this mask along with stripes of blue. A great amount of detail was taken in the forging of the mask and the careful design of the facial features. We can see a row of beads along the bottom of the mask as well and some black paint to accent the facial features of the mask.
As a work of art, the meaning behind this piece is purely religious. It clearly took a large amount of time to create due it's complex nature. The piece doubles as a tribute to the Pharaoh and his life. Obviously the maker of the piece respected the pharaoh or at least believed in his need to traverse across the celestial plane to the afterlife.
I'm an ex-History/Theology Major turned Art/Film Major. I'm still on the same religious journey that I've experienced since I was about sixteen. I'm pantheistic with influences from all over the spectrum. Read into the blog for more info. Can't make things too easy for you :P