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Author Koudounaris, Paul.
Title The empire of death : a cultural history of ossuaries and charnel houses / Paul Koudounaris.
Imprint New York, New York : Thames & Hudson, [2011]

Author Koudounaris, Paul.
Subject Ossuaries -- History.
Tombs -- History.
Death -- Social aspects -- History.
Description 224 pages : illustrations, maps ; 32 cm
Bibliography Note Includes bibliographical references and index.
Contents Introduction: a dialogue with death -- Ars Moriendi: The early charnel houses -- The golden age: Counter-reformation macabre -- The triumph of death: nineteenth-century visions in bone -- Heavenly souls: spiritualism and mythology in the bone pile -- Forget me not: ossuaries as commemorative sites -- Resurrecting the dead: conservation and reconstruction.
Summary It is sometimes said that death is the last taboo, but it was not always so. For centuries, religious establishments constructed decorated ossuaries and charnel houses that stand as masterpieces of art created from human bone. These unique structures have been pushed into the footnotes of history; they were part of a dialogue with death that is now silent. The sites in this specially photographed and brilliantly original study range from the Monastery of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Palermo, where the living would visit mummified or skeletal remains and lovingly dress them; to the Paris catacombs; to fantastic bone-encrusted creations in Austria, Cambodia, the Czech Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Germany, Greece, Italy, Peru, Portugal, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, and elsewhere. Paul Koudounaris photographed more than seventy sites for this book. He analyzes the role of these remarkable memorials within the cultures that created them, as well as the mythology and folklore that developed around them, and skillfully traces a remarkable human endeavor. -- Book Description.
ISBN 9780500251782
OCLC # 711052025

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