I see a similarity in the way people approach art and death: they know each exists but may feel intimidated to try and understand them. It does not have to be this way.
From Morbid Anatomy: A coin-operated automaton, likely from the 1920s, of a mortuary, complete with corpses on tables, busy morticians, and mourners bobbing their heads. Click through to see more pictures.
Image source: Skinner Auctioneers, via Morbid Anatomy.

From Morbid Anatomy: A coin-operated automaton, likely from the 1920s, of a mortuary, complete with corpses on tables, busy morticians, and mourners bobbing their heads. Click through to see more pictures.

Image source: Skinner Auctioneers, via Morbid Anatomy.

I clumsily fumbled for the key to the back entrance of the funeral home. Blindly searching for the light switch inside, I became aware of a low whisper. Upon flipping the switch, I realized the noise was coming from the occupied stretcher. Frightened, yet intrigued, I unzipped the bag on the stretcher and found a tape recorder playing a chant. Relief swept over me; everything was as it should be.
In the email announcing the Bacon Coffin, Justin and Dave added, “Don’t you judge us, after baconlube [bacon flavored personal lubricant], we all knew it was just going to keep getting weirder. And yeah, your [sic] right we’re probably going to hell for this one.”
Dead Bachelors in Remote China Still Find Wives

2006 article from the New York Times. Fascinating.

To ensure a son’s contentment in the afterlife, some grieving parents will search for a dead woman to be his bride and, once a corpse is obtained, bury the pair together as a married couple. […]

Villagers and Mr. Yang, the funeral director, said a family searching for a female corpse typically must pay more than 10,000 yuan, or about $1,200, almost four years of income for an average farmer. Families of the bride regard the money as the dowry they would have received had death not intervened.

Like many good things, via Order of the Good Death.

Art of Mourning: Symbolism Sunday, Wheat

Find out why wheat became a popular (and versatile) symbol in the art of mourning in this article on Art of Mourning:

Wheat has its symbolism baked deeply into the Bread of the Eucharist (Mark 14:22-24), a motif resonant of everlasting life through the belief in Jesus, this is when the motif is bundled with grapes. Within funeral art, we must also consider that wheat within the divine harvest would eventually be reaped (note the link back to the memento mori scythe symbol), denoting the life cut and the renewal (or resurrection) of the soul. […]

Another reason for its popularity is that the wheat sheaf was one of the simpler and more decorative weaves when tableworking hair. As such, it can be found in mourning wreaths, brooches, lockets, rings, woven with gold wire, feathered or simply glued into position. Because of this versatility, wheat became more of a prominent symbol, particularly in the 1820s-60s, in hairwork, rather than a secondary symbol (though it was used for this purpose as well).

Image via Art of Mourning.

Vice News: Aokigahara Suicide Forest

Check out this video from Vice News.

The Aokigahara Forest is the most popular site for suicides in Japan. After the novel Kuroi Jukai was published, in which a young lover commits suicide in the forest, people started taking their own lives there at a rate of 50 to 100 deaths a year. The site holds so many bodies that the Yakuza pays homeless people to sneak into the forest and rob the corpses. The authorities sweep for bodies only on an annual basis, as the forest sits at the base of Mt. Fuji and is too dense to patrol more frequently.

Found via The Order of the Good Death’s Facebook.



Image: Photo of Aokigahara Forest by ajari on Flickr.

ofpaperandponies said: That story of Joyce Carol Vincent in interesting on their own, but it also provides an interesting perspective on the recent death of David Carter. Well, recent discovery. He committed suicide four years ago in West Allis, WI. The cases are rather dichotomous in the end, but the reactions of those around the cases are so similar on the familial front, yet on the community front, they're so different. No one seems to care here, even though he was supposedly a "good and honest person" in life.

I’m really glad you brought this up.

Interestingly, I found the article about Joyce Carol Vincent about five minutes before I stumbled on the story of David Carter (via this Jezebel post, which characterized the discovery of the body as someone’s “worst day at work ever”—I’m not sure how I feel about that).

For those who haven’t heard this story: Here’s a more detailed article about David Carter.


Photo by Angela Peterson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Joyce Carol Vincent: How could this young woman lie dead and undiscovered for almost three years?

From The Guardian:

On 25 January 2006, officials from a north London housing association repossessing a bedsit in Wood Green owing to rent arrears made a grim discovery. Lying on the sofa was the skeleton of a 38-year-old woman who had been dead for almost three years. In a corner of the room the television set was still on, tuned to BBC1, and a small pile of unopened Christmas presents lay on the floor. Washing up was heaped in the kitchen sink and a mountain of post lay behind the front door. Food in the refrigerator was marked with 2003 expiry dates.

Read the article.

Reliquary of the Tooth of Mary Magdalene. Tuscan, 14th century (goldsmith’s work: 15th century). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. 
Source: Treasures of Heaven online exhibit.

Reliquary of the Tooth of Mary Magdalene. Tuscan, 14th century (goldsmith’s work: 15th century). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. 

Source: Treasures of Heaven online exhibit.

Ostensorium with “Paten of St. Bernward.” German (Lower Saxony [Hildesheim?]), ca. 1180-90 (paten); ca. 1350-1400 (monstrance). The Cleveland Museum of Art.
From the Treasures of Heaven exhibit:

This unusual ostensorium (from the Latin ostendere: to show) was made to facilitate the display and veneration of ten relics, most prominent among them an elaborate liturgical paten—a shallow plate for the elevation of the Eucharist during Mass—associated with St. Bernward of Hildesheim (d. 1022), and a relic of the True Cross.

On the back, eight more relics are visible:

They’re wrapped in silk and are identified—by an inscription on parchment accompanying the piece—as the remains of Saints Godehard, Nicholas, Auctor, Silvester, Servatius, John Chrysostom, Alexis, and Lawrence.

Ostensorium with “Paten of St. Bernward.” German (Lower Saxony [Hildesheim?]), ca. 1180-90 (paten); ca. 1350-1400 (monstrance). The Cleveland Museum of Art.

From the Treasures of Heaven exhibit:

This unusual ostensorium (from the Latin ostendere: to show) was made to facilitate the display and veneration of ten relics, most prominent among them an elaborate liturgical paten—a shallow plate for the elevation of the Eucharist during Mass—associated with St. Bernward of Hildesheim (d. 1022), and a relic of the True Cross.

On the back, eight more relics are visible:

They’re wrapped in silk and are identified—by an inscription on parchment accompanying the piece—as the remains of Saints Godehard, Nicholas, Auctor, Silvester, Servatius, John Chrysostom, Alexis, and Lawrence.

The New Yorker: The Story of a Suicide
Two college roommates, a webcam, and a tragedy.
CNN Video: Dead man riding motorcycle at his funeral

From 2010: CNN’s Jeanne Moos reports.

Sort-of related: When I lived in New York, I worked a block away from Time Warner Center (the building she’s standing outside of). I used to go over there to grab lunch at Whole Foods and I’d often see her standing outside interviewing people. She never stopped me, though. Sigh.

(Image via Oddity Central.)

Andreas Larsen Dahl, Funeral Party around Casket. Deerfield, Wisconsin, ca. 1874. Source: Wisconsin Historical Society.

A funeral party is assembled around a casket in front of an upright-and-wing frame house. Two older men on the left, one identified as Lars D. Reque, stand with bibles while several women wearing Norwegian-style patterned shawls are standing close to the casket. This is another house insured by the Hekla Fire Insurance Co., which sold to many Norwegian-American households in south central Wisconsin.

Andreas Larsen Dahl, Funeral Party around CasketDeerfield, Wisconsin, ca. 1874. Source: Wisconsin Historical Society.

A funeral party is assembled around a casket in front of an upright-and-wing frame house. Two older men on the left, one identified as Lars D. Reque, stand with bibles while several women wearing Norwegian-style patterned shawls are standing close to the casket. This is another house insured by the Hekla Fire Insurance Co., which sold to many Norwegian-American households in south central Wisconsin.

Skeletons, mummies, bog bodies, exhumations. The dead, and what happens to them.

About | Archive

Categories:
Meet This Dead Person
Feats of Preservation
Skulls and Skeletons
Bog Bodies
Mummies
Ossuaries and Bone Architecture
Incorruptibles and Saintly Relics
Exhumations
When Famous People Die
When Dead People Turn to Soap
Skeletons in Clothes
Dead People Sitting, Standing, or
     Made to Look Alive

Postmortem Photography
Death in Art
Death Masks
Crime
Suicide
Disease
War
Hearses
Executions
Accidents and Disasters
Funerals
Morgues, Funeral Homes, and the
     Business of Death

Mourning Customs and Imagery
Handling, Disposing of, and Storing
     the Dead

Posthumous Travels and
     (mis)Adventures

Cemeteries and Graveyard Scenes
Personal Details and Opinions
Personal Favorites
Just Plain Weird or Uncategorizable

My Elsewheres:
Slight Perceptual Problem
Old-Timey Cats
Old & Welsh

Sites I Like
Bess Lovejoy
Get Your Shit Together
Morbid Anatomy
Strange Remains
The Chirurgeon's Apprentice
The Order of the Good Death