You're viewing this item in the new Europeana website. View this item in the original Europeana.

Memento mori skull and crossbones, Europe, 1801-1900

Memento mori figures were used to remember the dead and remind the living of the fragility of life. In this example, a skull sits on top of crossed bones. This is the traditional symbol of piracy, but the skull and crossbones had other meanings. It suggested the ultimate triumph of death over life, for example Shakespeare’s famous scene in which Hamlet holds the skull of Yoric. Memento mori often …