Happy Halloween! / ‘Memento mori’ rings

Image: Flickr user Pascal, via Bones Don't Lie

Image: Flickr user Pascal, via Bones Don’t Lie

Happy Halloween! I’ve always thought that that is rather odd, wishing people a happy Halloween, considering that the day is all about death and fear. Not really very happy, is it?

However, I did think it as good a time as any to quickly say that I recently learnt about the past fashion of memento mori rings such as this one, dated 1740:

1868

Such rings, with a skeleton around the band, as well as the hourglass motif and hearts first came in in the mid-17th century (the earliest dated piece is from 1659), and were designed as a constant reminder of the wearer’s mortality. It was more common for such items to contain a crystal or piece of glass, under which may have been a piece of hair or a small skull design, and such examples as the one above or this nice piece from 1714 (below) that depict such a bold design are relatively rare.

Image: britishmuseum.org

Image: britishmuseum.org

I suppose that the modern skull ring is the closest that we have now, and a quick Google image search can throw up hundreds of varying designs and styles of these. However, all of these look as though they could be used to inflict a large amount of pain on someone else, whereas these historical examples are simple yet elegant and rather pretty in their design and execution. I’d quite like one, to be honest, even if they are a constant reminder that the end for all of us is nigh at some point or other, and looking on Etsy, it seems that modern examples in the style of those shown above are available. All very Halloween-like!

An example from 1740 showing a small skull design below a crystal or piece of glass.

An example from 1740 showing a small skull design below a crystal or piece of glass.

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