The Ancient Egyptians believed that the soul was comprised of 9 parts, one being the human body that was left behind. This is partially the reason for mummification, to preserve this piece of the soul and act as conduit to deliver offerings to the rest of it. Photo: Gary Todd (modified)
Engraving depicting hell from Das Welttheater, oder die allgemeine Weltgeschichte von der Schöpfung bis zum Jahr, C. Strahlheim, 1834. Source: The British Library
The Hellmouth is an entrance to hell that manifests as the open jaws of an infernal beast. Depictions of Hellmouths were common during the Middle Ages and Renaissance in manuscripts, and even as dramatic mechanical set pieces in theatrical productions.
- Detail of The Mouth of Hell, from the Book of Hours of Catherine of Cleves, 1440
- Vision de l’Enfer (Vision of Hell), from Les Visions du chevalier Tondal, 1475
- Ludolf of Saxony, Inferno, from Speculum Humanae Salvationis, 1455
- Lambert of Saint-Omer, Liber Floridu, 1250 – 1275
- Detail of Jugement Dernier – Damnés (Last Judgement – The Damned Souls), 1492
In Chinese mythology, Ox-Head and Horse-Face are guardians of the Underworld, and act as the equivalent to the Angel of Death. They capture and escort human souls to be judged in the courts of Hell, and are messengers of the king of Hell, Yanluo Wang. Images by Jnzl on Flickr
The sarcophagus of Leopold I (1640 – 1705), Holy Roman Emperor, King of Hungary, Croatia, and Bohemia, found in the Kapuzinergruft Crypt in Vienna, Austria. Images by Jebulon and Dennis Jarvis from Wikimedia Commons.
The Dance of Death or (Danse Macabre) is an allegory used in art and literature, popular in the Late Middle Ages, that uses the personification of death to remind us that death unites us all, regardless of one’s station in life. Sources: The Dance of Death (1493) by Michael Wolgemut and “The dance of death in painting and in print” (1887) by T. Tindall Wildridge
According to Kabbalah, when a person’s body decomposes or is cremated, a tiny bone at the base of the spine, called the luz, always remains intact. When the dead are resurrected, their physical bodies will reconstitute from this seed-like bone. Image: J. Gamelin, 1778⠀