Chapel of Bones/ Ossuaries

“The word “ossuary” is derived from the the Latin os (bone; plural ossa). An ossuarium was a container for bones, typically a box. Related words in other Romance languages derived from these roots include ossa, os, and ossos in Italian, French, and Portuguese respectively (all meaning bones), and cognates for ossuary itself: osario (Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese) and ossuaire (French).
The word ossuary is found in an English dictionary from the 1650s, but was at that time still defined as a container–the dictionary in question specifically defined it as an urn containing bones. Eventually the word evolved from implying a simple container to having an architectural usage, and now describes a room in which bones are contained.
This makes it synonymous with “charnel” (or “charnel house”). The Latin caro (flesh, and also referring to the remains of the deceased), provided the root of charnel, which evolved from carnarium, which designated a place where human remains were kept.
Cognates for charnel include the French charnier and German Karner (although in German, Beinhaus, meaning “bone house” is more typical in modern usage).” (Empire de la Mort)
I already own a book called ‘Empire of Death’ by Paul Koudounaris. It’s a photographic book with some information about the catacombs and ossuaries around the world. I scanned in a couple of book pages that inspired me with the information/imagery.


Scan 2


Scan 7

Scan 9

Scan 11

Scan 12

Scan 13

Scan 14

Scan 16


With these images, I liked the juxtaposition of the skulls with the  visually splendid gems and gold. It’s also unusual that some of the skeletons are wearing clothing or some kind of covering as if they were still alive. The mixture of pleasant vs horrid imagery is something I try to employ in my work from time to time, and of course for this project I will be trying to see how far I can push this.


Scan 15

Scan 6


These images aren’t much of a step away from the usual work I create, but they are visually interesting examples of different patterns. Whilst I probably won’t be making patterns from skulls and bones, I do like the idea of creating a compositions based on some of these ideas.




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