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Mortuary Chapel Embedded with Human Skulls

In the small town of Wolhusen, Switzerland, a funeral home chapel sits as it has since the 17th century. Its walls are decorated with a wraparound mural depicting the Dance of Death, in which corpse-like death figures come to claim the living. What makes this particular mortuary chapel different is that, from the entryway to the murals, real human skulls are part of the decor.

Inside, the mural is comprised of a series of figures in the classic Dance of Death motif, showing people from all walks of life (kings, bishops, musicians, and peasants) being led away by dancing skeletal figures, each of which has a real human skull set in the plaster where its head should be. The skulls are even situated to match the angle of the skeletons' poses, with one set in the plaster face first to show the skeleton with its back turned to the viewer.

Take a mini-tour of the Wolhusen Totentanz in text and pictures at Atlas Obscura.

(Image credit: Michael Bukowski & Jeanne D'Angelo)


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