Danse Macabre, William Strang, 1891
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.
Atranrbiabil is a fire demon with the complexion and temperament of the element. He can control death and decay: killing with a word, raising armies from the grave, and reversing decay. To summon him, one must burn a specific collection of perfumes. Art: Eve Harms CC BY 3.0
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
Bookplate from Holbein’s Dance of death, 1858. Source: Wellcome Library