Death Salon UK

skull illusion death salon cemetery technology
I’d have been happy to just stare at the surroundings all day…

I had been looking forward to this since the second I booked the ticket, and I wasn’t disappointed – Death Salon was awesome.

Held in Bart’s Museum of Pathology, the surroundings couldn’t have been better – sitting listening to talks whilst surrounded by thousands of preserved human specimens, each more curious and morbidly fascinating than the last. Most people spent the coffee breaks just wandering, peering into jars and reading faded labels.

The highlight of my day was definitely the talk given by Dr Paul Koudounaris, author of Heavenly Bodies: Cult Treasures & Spectacular Saints from the Catacombs, a most awesome looking book which is definitely on my wish list. Dr Paul was himself as fascinating as his academic subject…

skull illusion death salon paul koudounaris lindsey fitzharris
Sharp as! Photo by Lindsey Fitzharris, @ChirurgeonsAppr

There wasn’t a single thing about the schedule that wasn’t interesting, from the modern history of funeral directors in the UK to the social etiquette involved in funeral food in the American South (which referenced this most awesome sounding book). It’s certainly given me no end of things to think about, and so much inspiration for the Death Cafe that I’m holding next month.

skull illusion death salon death or cake

More details of the Death Salon that I attended can be found on this rather excellent Storify version of the day.

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Enrique Metinides

skull illusion enrique metinides mexico woman pedestrian car crash
click to enlarge image

Only a quick post today, as I’m leaving for Death Salon at stupid o’clock in the morning and really need to start packing a case before I wind up on a train with nothing but a ticket and a confused expression.

I’ve come across this photograph many times whilst searching for post mortem photography on the net, and I have to admit that for quite a while I just assumed it was a carefully put together fake. Eventually I looked into the story behind the image and discovered that it was in fact the work of renowned Mexican street photographer Enrique Metinides.

This picture was taken on Avenida Chapultepec and Calle de Monterrey in Colonia Roma. She was a very famous journalist who wrote some really good books. That day she had a book-release party and was on her way there. She was all made up, going to pick up her sister to go to the event. Crossing the street, two cars crashed and then ran her over. This picture is great because she has all her makeup on and she just doesn’t look dead even though she is.

Metinides was born in Mexico City in 1934. He began his photographic career at only ten years old and continues to this day.

Click here to read an interview Metinides did with Vice magazine in 2007

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young girl post mortem

skull illusion post mortem photography memento mori ebay lillian
click to enlarge

This rather pretty little post mortem photograph is currently for sale on eBay. I like to have a trawl through what’s available, but as I’ve said before I long ago made the decision not to buy ‘actual’ photographs, simply because of the cost.

If you’re interested, the photo is on a ‘buy it now’ deal at $47.99 (auction closes 29th April).

Click here to be taken to the eBay selling page 

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Please note that I am not connected in any way to the seller of the image – I have posted this here for curiosity’s sake and no other reason.

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Lady in chair, post mortem

skull illusion victorian post mortem photography tumblr woman chair

I love this post mortem photograph – the lady is propped in what was probably her favourite chair in a very smart dress and ruffle collar.

There is a man’s portrait just visible on the table behind her – perhaps her husband or lost love? Or maybe not – perhaps I’m just being overly romantic about it. It does seem to be intentionally placed there, though.

Original link here

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open coffin funeral

skull illusion victorian post mortem photography unknown open coffin
click to enlarge

Edited: well that didn’t take long! Thanks to Susie from White Streak for sending me this information about the photograph

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As this post mortem image was found swimming in the depths of Tumblr, I have absolutely zero background information on it.

Anyone recognise any cultural references? I know we’ve identified the geographical background of photos from the style of funeral customs before now. Any and all info and suggestions are, as always, most gratefully received!

click here for image source

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the strange death of Elisa Lam

 skull illusion elisa lam cecil hotel los angeles

Eliza Lam gained tragic notoriety when her body was found in a water tank on the roof of the Cecil Hotel, Los Angeles in February 2013, after other guests had complained about quality and taste of the water coming out of the taps. Yes, I retched at that snippet, too.

Not only had the 21 year old student apparently managed to drown herself in a tank that was almost impossible to access and which had to be cut open to free her body (the coroner deemed her death to be ‘accidental’), but CCTV footage showed that prior to her death she had been acting very bizarrely indeed…

 

 To make things even creepier, the Cecil Hotel has a dark history of death and murder. Notorious serial killer Richard Ramirez, aka the Night Stalker, lived at the Cecil during his reign of terror in the 1980′s, and Jack Unterweger stayed at the hotel whilst working on an article about prostitution 1991. He is thought to have murdered at least three sex workers during his time in residence and was widely believed to have chosen the Cecil as a base in homage to Ramirez.

You can read more about the Cecil here, and watch a CNN report about the Lam case below:

 

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Thanks to Stuart B. for suggesting this article. I always appreciate contributions and ideas – if you have anything you’d like to share with other readers, please get in touch.

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Carl Tanzler – a morbid affair…

skull illusion Elena Milagro de Hoyos Carl Tanzler
Elena Milagro de Hoyos, b.1909 – d.1931

There’s love, there’s obsessive love, and then there’s ‘no holds barred downright nuts obsession masked as love’…

Elena de Hoyos was hospitalised at the Marine Hospital in Key West in 1930, suffering from tuberculosis. She almost immediately caught the eye of Carl Tanzler, a radiologist at the hospital. Not only did Tanzler notice her, he believed that he recognised her as his ‘true love’, whom he had apparently seen in visions.

Despite Tanzler’s best efforts with medications and unlikely treatments such as x-rays, de Hoyos died on October 25th, 1931. Not only did Tanzler insist on paying for the funeral, he also (with the permission of her family) commissioned a mausoleum in Key West cemetery, which he visited on a nightly basis after de Hoyos’ interment.

From Wikipedia (there are many web pages about Tanzler, but nearly all just quote Wiki anyway):

One evening in April, 1933, Tanzler crept through the cemetery where Hoyos was buried and removed her body from the mausoleum, carting it through the cemetery after dark on a toy wagon, and transporting it to his home. He reportedly said that Elena’s spirit would come to him when he would sit by her grave and serenade her corpse with a favorite Spanish song. He also said that she would often tell him to take her from the grave.

Tanzler attached the corpse’s bones together with wire and coat hangers, and fitted the face with glass eyes. As the skin of the corpse decomposed, Tanzler replaced it with silk cloth soaked in wax and plaster of paris. As the hair fell out of the decomposing scalp, Tanzler fashioned a wig from Hoyos’s hair that had been collected by her mother and given to Tanzler not long after her burial in 1931.

Tanzler filled the corpse’s abdominaland chest cavity with rags to keep the original form, dressed Hoyos’s remains in stockings, jewelry, and gloves, and kept the body in his bed. Tanzler also used copious amounts of perfume, disinfectants, and preserving agents, to mask the odor and forestall the effects of the corpse’s decomposition.

Niiiiiiice.

After seven years, de Hoyos’ family heard rumour of what had been happening and Tanzler was arrested. The corpse was put on display for a brief time in a local funeral home and it was said that as many as 6,800 people viewed it before de Hoyos was finally reinterred at Key West, this time in an unmarked grave.

Carl Tanzler and his (unwitting) corpse bride...
Carl Tanzler and his (unwitting) corpse bride…

Rather surprisingly from a modern perspective, Tanzler was generally viewed with sympathy and seen as something of a romantic. It’s certainly a step up from laying flowers tidily on a grave…

Tanzler’s case took so long to come to court that all charges against him were eventually dropped as the statute of limitations for the crime had expired. He made a wax effigy of de Hoyos using a death mask and lived with it until his death on July 3, 1952.

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Thanks to Nickie H for the heads up about this amazingly bizarre story. I always appreciate contributions and suggestions – if you have anything you’d like to share with other readers, please get in touch.

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The skeletons of Nazca Cemetery

Nazca Peru 13

These amazing photographs of the Nazca burial grounds in Peru were taken by my friend Carole, who has kindly allowed me to reproduce them here.

Further information about Nazca and its history can be found here

Click any image to open the full gallery.

All images courtesy of Carole Hallett Mobbs of  Your Expat Childwho has travelled to more interesting places than I’ve had hot dinners.

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Reader contribution – Rube Burrow, outlaw

skull illusion vintage post mortem photography rube burrow

This fabulous post mortem photograph was sent in to the Skull’s Facebook page by reader Warren Hart, who says:

Alabaman Rube Burrow was a train robber, primarily in Texas. He was killed in Linden, Alabama, where he had been captured and handcuffed to a bench. Using a hidden pistol, he got free from the handcuffs, then went looking for another of his captors who had taken his Marlin rifle. Burrow was killed in the ensuing gunfight.

Good old Wikipedia actually has a really nice collection of information – click here (opens in new window).

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I always appreciate contributions and suggestions. If you have anything you’d like to share with other readers, please get in touch.

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Guatamala funeral wake, early c20th

skull illusion alan auyon post mortem memento mori

This post mortem photograph was kindly sent in by reader Alan Auyón (who also contributed these gorgeous graveyard pics on the Skull’s Facebook page).

Background details are sketchy, but Alan is fairly certain that it shows the funeral wake of a Guatamalan farmer, probably some time in the early nineteen hundreds.

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