Skulls seem to come and go in the popular culture. Some periods of time they were more prevalent than other. Crystal skulls of the South American people are said to be of some of the very oldest. Through time people have crafted skulls out of pottery, Ivory, bronze, marble, and gemstones. The first one I am showcasing is from Jordan. It is made of plaster. This skull dates back 7000 years ago. People were much closer to death than we are today. An infection could easily kill a person, and a bad year of crops could mean famine for so many. People also lived very close to their relatives, and often after a death people would make a mask of the deceased so they could have the ancestor right there with them.
This is a mosaic from Pompeii and now in the Naples National Archeological Museum. Skulls are so fascinating because of the complex symbolism. This one is full…Above the head of the skull is an instrument that a mason would use to measure angles for a “square” building. One could also relate it to a square life. The skull is hanging by a string, just as life is precarious. Hence the Latin saying… Carpe Diem or “Seize the Day”. Savoring your time in the moment. The moth or butterfly is a hint that beauty fades. The wheel is the wheel of fortune, and it is unpredictable. You may have good fortune, as the purple cloak show us the side of wealth with a scepter. The other side show us poverty, with a goats hide, stick, and a rag bag. Another interpretation is that death is the ultimate equalizer. It does not matter if you are rich or poor, you are going to die.
This is an ancient bronze skull from Italy. I wanted to show you this one since it has the bizarre looking skull too. I have not been able to find any information about the Etruscans utilizing skulls, but they used images that resembled people quite often.
Another mosaic this one of a skeleton serving wine. When the elite would have dinner parties they often gave out fully reticulating bronze skeletons. Again reminding the visitors of their home to enjoy themselves today. We may not have tomorrow.
A Roman coin with an elderly man poking his staff into the eye socket of skull. Is he trying to tell us that he is beating death for the day?
A skull in Naples that is rubbed for good luck.
An Ivory skull that is from the Roman period. There are so many examples to show you from all over the world. I have chose to focus on Italy today. As I mentioned earlier the Celtics, Germans, French, have also carved skulls.
Jewelry was given to a lady that you were serious about. You were telling her that now is the time. Two Putti are holding up a skull. This is etched in crystal.
A crystal skull with a crown, a wheel under it and then the cross. This is in the Met Museum in NYC. Death is the ultimate King, since we all die. Fortune may be good to us, or not, but religion is here to save us.
Antique Ivory topper to a walking stick. The unique look of a tooth missing adds more mystique. Again, there are so many images to show you, but so little time. I wanted to show the ancient skulls were used in so many ways. reminding people that today is the day that counts. This moment is the moment to live. Get the things done today that can be done today. Skulls have gone through transitions, we have welcomed them at times, and shunned them at times. At this moment in time skulls are everywhere. They are not to be feared. We enjoy the aesthetically pleasing look of a great skull. Big eyes naturally draw us in, it is part of our code.