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  • Writer's pictureMarcel Kolb & Susanne Chacon

The skull is "in" and has long lost its terror!

From a symbol of transience to an omnipresent fashion accessory!

Images of skeletons and skulls have been known from most cultures around the world since earliest times. Their representations were intended to remind us of the transience of the human body, the terminality of life, and the confrontation with the inevitability of one's own death. From the Middle Ages onwards, skeletons, but especially the skull, became the most immediate memento mori representation.

In Western culture, the skull has been a symbol of human mortality and the similarity of all people after death since the 11th century. In Islam, on the other hand, death does not mean the end of life, but a transitional phase. In the Christian-influenced Occident, the image of the skull belongs to war and battle. It proves the intrepidity, unconditional hardness, is supposed to make threats to kill credible.

Pirates spread fear and terror among their victims by hoisting the skull and crossbones flag even before boarding.

The close intertwining of fashion and death has led to a trivialization of the skull symbol!

In recent years, the symbolic content became more and more diluted. The skull was marketed and went on a global expansion course.

While 30 years ago the symbol was used by the gothic scene as a way of demarcation, today certain social groups want to show a certain coolness with the skull symbol. The fearless approach to death, the display of a skull on the skin, in the form of a tattoo or on clothing and jewelry, is intended to convey the message that one does not fear death.

Today, the skull has become a mass commodity on T-shirts and branded clothing.

The thoroughly changed relationship to the skull in the West can currently be observed especially in the fashion world. It can no longer be seen only on leather vests of the "Hells Angels" rocker group or on the record covers of various rock bands.

"Buy now, die later!" was not the motto of the Kassel Museum für Sepulkralkultur for nothing.

Skulls are cult, a phenomenon in the fashion world today. The skull trend has now made the leap to the Paris catwalks, has lasted for years and continues to expand relentlessly.

Not only young people adorn themselves with skulls and skeletons, but also the generation 50plus. Meanwhile out of the heavy metal scene, out of the haze of black gothics, the creepy fashion even conquers the bargain counters of department stores.

Do you already have the skull spirit?



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