Here at Home That Rocks, we are not ashamed to admit that we are slightly (slightly – really? Who are we kidding) obsessed with the skull. That’s right, we love all things skull and skeleton related. We even have a whole category for them on our website! But it is not only us at HTR that are obsessed with all things skeletal. So, what is it about this image, that is clearly associated with death, that we love so much?
O SKULL WHERE ART THOU?
Skulls have been a popular subject in the art world. They featured heavily in Aztec and Mexican art – a trend that has remained popular today, as seen in the Day of the Dead celebrations, and renowned Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, whose paintings regularly featured skulls. Renaissance art regularly included skulls, especially on works that focused on religion and the divine. Artists studying still-life, such as Paul Cezanne, would no doubt get fed up with bowls of fruit – shook things up with odd skull arrangement. Then there is Georgia O’Keeffe, known for her large flowers and skyscrapers; moved to New Mexico and fell under the spell of the skull. Latterly, animal skulls were frequently incorporated into her work. We have Picasso with his black and white skulls; Dali’s ‘Women in Skull formation’ and Damien Hirst’s own Memento Mori (remember that you die) with his crystal encrusted skull – it is fair to say that the skull has and continues to be an inspiration for artistic expression.
SKULLS, SPIRIRTUALLY SPEAKING…
When we think of skulls, we think of life and death; therefore, it comes as no surprise that skulls are spiritual. In the voodoo religion, skulls play an important role and can have different meanings: a white skull represents life, healing and even resurrection; while black skulls can be used in rituals involving spells and hexes and represent death. But, for many, the most notorious spiritual skull is the sugar skull associated with Dias de los Muertos (The Day of The Dead). Despite what the name suggests, this two-day Mexican festival, celebrated in November, is a happy affair; where families and friends gather to remember loved ones who have died. It is a time to reflect, remember and celebrate the lives of those that are no longer with us. Many will leave gifts at the graveside or at an offrenda (shrine) at home. The sugar skull’s origin is that of a biscuit; elaborately decorated in bright colours and patterns and enjoyed by many. The sugar skull has since become a fashionable image in recent years, and can be seen on clothes, jewellery, tattoos, homewares, stationery etc.,
The skull is often used to symbolise danger. When paired with crossbones, as seen on labels, skulls are used as a warning of poisonous or toxic substances. Apart from poison, the skull and crossbones (otherwise known as the Jolly Rodger) emblem is commonly associated with pirates, as a symbol to warn others of their presence and intentions. Other gangs, like the Hell’s Angels, have skulls emblazoned on their clothing and jewellery to enhance their cuddly image. In Elizabethan England, skull rings were popular with ‘Rakes’: men who were known to gamble, drink heavily or partake in other substances and have many affairs with many women. They were also known to be worn by prostitutes. The rings were used as a status symbol, of which could then be spun round to look like a plain band if they were in more ‘polite’ company.
It’s apparent that our love of skulls has spanned for centuries, and something I don’t think it will wane anytime soon. To feed your skull habit, checkout our skull section on the website.