Well, it’s not really made of skulls, but this German rosary from the early 16th century certainly has a macabre air about it. Made of ivory and set into silver, each of the eight beads represents the bust of a burgher or maiden on one side and a skeleton on the other. Albeit lurid, the beads may hint that life is fleeting and virtuousness in the Christian faith is the only true path to salvation. Raised Roman Catholic, I’ve seen plenty of rosaries, but none quite as compelling as this. Leave it to my Teutonic ancestors to create shock value, even in modern times!
Courtesy of Metropolitan Museum of Art.