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Memento mori, Europe, 1689

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Jewellery like this brooch containing human hair is associated with mourning. The hair is almost certainly from a departed loved one. Objects such as these were called memento mori, or ‘reminder of death’. The skeleton holding an hourglass reminded the wearer of the shortness of their life. The brooch has two loops on the back to attach it to a belt or to put in the hair. It is engraved with the initials of the person who died, ‘W H’, and the date 1689.

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