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Posts Tagged ‘Archaeothanatology’

The Graves of a Catholic woman and her Protestant husband, Holland [da]

søndag den 30. juni 2013

Graves of a Catholic woman and her Protestant husband, who were not allowed to be buried together.

Via @Earth_Pics

I wondered where to find these peculiar graves, and what the history behind them were. I now see that dichotomization can add at least some of the story:

In the Protestant part of this cemetery, J.W.C van Gorcum, colonel of the Dutch Cavalry and militia commissioner in Limburg, is buried. His wife, lady J.C.P.H van Aefferden, is buried in the Catholic part. They were married in 1842, the lady was 22 and the colonel was 33, but he was a protestant and didn’t belong to the nobility. This caused quite a commotion in Roermond. After being married for 38 years, the colonel died in 1880 and was buried in the protestant part of the cemetery against the wall. His wife died in 1888 and had decided not to be buried in the family tomb but on the other side of the wall, which was the closest she could get to her husband. Two clasped hands connect the graves across the wall.

Roermond is in Holland, and you can actually find the grave on Google Maps! Plus som extra photos of the grave, incl. pic no. 2 of the grave dressed in snow.

Body of a courtesan in nine stages of decomposition, c. 1870 [da]

lørdag den 11. maj 2013

When I read Henri Duday’s The Archaeology of the Dead: Lectures in Archaeothanatology (Oxbow Books 2009), I stumbled upon a black and white print of the same motive from the early 19th century Japan entitled “Voyages de la Mort” showing the decomposition of a corpse in 12 vignettes. In Japanese this motive is called kusôzu, lit. ‘images of the nine stages’ - a sort of Japanese Memento Mori.

Since then I have unsuccesfully tried to find these vignettes in a colour version. What I have found instead are these fascinating drawings depicting the same motive:

Paintied handscroll by Kobayashi Eitaku (1843 - 1890).
Ink and colour on silk. Sealed.

Height: 25.5 centimetres
Width: 501.5 centimetres

Curator’s comments
The scroll shows the stages of decomposition of the body of a woman, beginning with her fully clothed body and ending with her bones being eaten by dogs. The subject is an ancient Buddhist one, treating of the transience of the physical body, but which later assumed didactic functions relating to the proper conduct of women. In this example, however, the theme is given a new and somewhat prurient twist by its featuring of a prostitute as the subject. The work intersects with the world of ‘erotic pictures’ (shunga) and gives a very useful counterpoint for studying that genre. A prolific and versatile artist trained in the traditional Kano school, Eitaku achieved success rather through ukiyoe works and newspaper illustrations, but his reputation in Japan is not yet as high as it should be. Like many important artists whose careers straddled the end of the Edo period and beginning of the Meiji era, Japanese scholars have found it problematic to classify him. (TTC, Dec 2008)

Source: britishmuseum.org

More: See further example here or here, with some interesting reflexions by Sara Reads on Kusôzu and the grotesque