Bones as Iconography

One cannot always discuss the history of astrology, particularly when there are so many other oddities that come to my attention. An oddity that came to my attention today is the Sedlec Ossuary in the Czech Republic. Since the year 1278, when Henry, Abbott of the Cistercian Monastery, brought some dirt back with him from the Holy Land and sprinkled it over the abbey’s cemetery, Sedlec Church has been a popular burial place. After the Black Death of the 14th century and later, the Hussite Wars, approximately 70,000 dead bodies were buried in an over-burdened cemetery.

This is the part where it gets interesting. In the 1500s, after expanding the cemetery as much as they could, and, of course, disturbing the eternal rest of those who had been buried there for quite some time, the Cistercian monks gave the job of dealing with the bones of the exhumed bodies to a half-blind monk, who began stacking the bones in piles. However, it wasn’t until the 1870s that someone was hired to put the bones in order. A woodcarver took on the task, and the result is the bizarre ossuary you can see in the pictures and links on the web.

Chandelier of bones and skulls

The man on this site, The Ossuary in Sedlec main page says he’s madly in love with the place; and even youtube has a video about it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=orrBOBbgnzs

I’m not sure what more can be said. I think this is one of those phenomena where the pictures speak louder than words. Nor can I realistically say “enjoy!” Ossuaries delight some people, and freak others out. I just think they’re interesting, because nowhere else is what’s left of the human body after death given such an entertaining home, and this particular ossuary has to be one of the most amazing anyone has ever constructed.

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