Why do we love skulls so much? Alright, it might be wrong to call this emotion ‘love’ but the image of the dead head surely engages attention. For a good reason or not is another question. Still, you can’t deny that skull images are pervasive in popular culture as well thought the centuries before the present day. Have you ever pondered over the phenomenon of the skull? Or do you know how our ancestors took advantage of the skulls? If the answer is ‘no’ but you’re curious, below is something you may find interesting.
Skulls – Terrifying and Terrific
Our brain is full of associations. When we see a heart, we think of love. When we look at the clouds, we see people, animals, objects, and everything that our imagination is capable of. When we see a skull, we think of death. Nevertheless, this image remains invariably appealing. This is because our brain doesn’t actually see the skull, it sees a human face. It tries to fill empty eye sockets, sunken cheekbones, a missing nose, etc. with information to get a familiar image. Faces are what we see every day. It is by the face that we recognize most people. We enjoy looking at faces. And our brain tries to make a face out of the skull. For this reason, skulls have irresistible pulling power no matter how many spooky stories about skulls we’ve heard.
Popular culture willingly uses the image of the skull to outrage, intrigue, attract attention, and raise eyebrows. This image is ambiguous, and no matter what reaction it causes, positive or negative, it leaves no one indifferent. Skull jewelry, tattoos, posters, t-shirt prints, decor items, and much more are the favorite trick among fashionistas to set themselves apart in the crowd. At the same time, skulls have been around for millennia, and aside from a strong visual appeal, they carry a tremendous significance.
Lucky Charm and Protection Against Evil
Our ancestors, who were way more superstitious than the people of the 21st century, believed that skulls have the power to drive away evil, misfortune, and diseases. It was common to build a small altar in a dwelling and crown it with a skull of an ancestor or an outstanding tribesman. Besides that, skulls were placed around villages and buried in the fields to make sure diseases pass by and the crops are abundant.
At the same time, people used to embellish themselves with the skulls and bones of animals. It was believed that bones piercing the skin or cartilage spoke of a person’s strength and skill, and the larger those bones were, the greater talents the wearer possessed. Those who didn’t want to or couldn’t have a body piercing decorated themselves with bone jewelry, which also had the meaning of lucky charms.
Today, jewelry still has the function of an amulet and lucky charm. Such a seemingly non-superstitious group of people as bikers, for example, idolizes the skull as their patron. That is why they wear skull jewelry and tattoos, not because they want to strike terror. Want to see some striking examples of biker skull rings? Make sure to visit https://www.bikerringshop.com
Speaking of terror, this is another phenomenon that skulls are associated with. People of the past used to put dead heads on stakes, not only for protection, but also to instill fear in enemies. These stakes were a kind of boundary that strangers could cross at their own risk. It’s fair to say that skulls were an ancient danger sign. Centuries later, the skull, but this time supplemented with crossbones, became a symbol of piracy (Jolly Roger) as well as the designation of poisons and hazardous substances.
Toughness and Bravery
From time immemorial, the skull was considered the receptacle of a person’s life force, abilities, wisdom, and individuality. It was a great success to get the skull of an outstanding person. Warriors who managed to defeat a strong opponent took his skull and made goblets and ritual vessels out of it. It was believed that in order to take possession of the strength and talents of the deceased, one was supposed to drink from their skull.
At the same time, a hero who defeated a nemesis and took his skull became a paragon of bravery and masculinity. Not everyone was lucky to get his hands on a noble skull, and therefore warriors often applied the images of skulls to their armor and weapons. This was supposed to emphasize their prowess as well as instill fear in the enemy. Over time, skulls have become attributes of armies around the world and even now this symbol can be seen on uniforms or banners.
Life, Rebirth, and Immortality
The skull is such a controversial symbol that it easily combines the meanings of death, life, and everything in between. Skulls were used in ancient rituals to facilitate the transition of deceased ones into the afterlife. Skulls were a means of communication with those who live in the said afterlife. Skulls were an attribute of resurrection and healing rituals. Even religions recognize the significance of the skull as a symbol of immortality and resurrection. If you look closely at the crucifix, you will notice that the cross stands atop a skull. This skull belongs to none other than Adam, the first man and the first sinner. The blood of Jesus washed Adam’s skull and atoned for his sins so that his immortal soul could finally find peace.