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Bone Idols: The Cult Of Dripping Saints In Jewels

You're probably familiar with the Mexican Day of the Dead - Día de Muertos - the central theme of which was expanded upon in the recent Pixar film Coco. Others have carried the tradition of honoring the dead to extremes, as seen in this series of photographs.

Bejewelled skeletons of Christian martyrs were often found in the catacombs under Rome in the late 16th century. Sent to Catholic churches and religious houses in German-speaking Europe to replace relics destroyed in the wake of the Protestant Reformation, these skeletons were reassembled and richly adorned with precious jewels and costumes.

Venerating human remains is not to everyone’s tastes. Pouring wax over skulls and bones to form a kind of skin adds a ghoulish air. But death has never looked more beautiful.


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So we’ll live,
And pray, and sing, and tell old tales, and laugh
At gilded butterflies, and hear poor rogues
Talk of court news, and we’ll talk with them too—
Who loses and who wins, who’s in, who’s out—
And take upon ’s the mystery of things
As if we were God’s spies. And we’ll wear out
In a walled prison packs and sects of great ones
That ebb and flow by the moon.
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