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Wooden memento mori of a woman, Italy

  • Science Museum, London
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Credit: Wooden memento mori of a woman, Italy. Science Museum, London. Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

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Wooden memento mori showing a woman with half a head and half a skull, Italy, 1801-1900 Carved from wood, this statue shows a woman with half of her head intact and the other half with a bare skull. This type of figure is known as a memento mori – literally a reminder of death, used to prompt people about the shortness of life and the inevitability of death. A skull was used to represent death from the 1500s onwards, replacing the older image of a skeleton leading a living person to their fate.

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