The Empire of Death
The Empire of Death

The Empire of Death

Hardcover, 224 pages
Published October 24th 2011 by Thames Hudson

€45

A Cultural History of Ossuaries and Charnel Houses

The Empire of Death Takes the reader on an international tour of macabre and devotional architectural masterpieces in nearly 20 countries. This book brings together some of the world's most important charnel sites, ranging from the crypts of the Capuchin monasteries in Italy, to the strange tomb of a 1960s wealthy Peruvian nobleman.

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

Categories
Kids, Books, MUSEES, Catacombes de Paris

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