Bones and skulls are, unsurprisingly, objects that have much symbolism and significance attached to them. Whilst some people find bones macabre, in many cultures they are more likely to be associated with life than death with some people believing they are the ‘seat of the vital principle or soul’. They have been thought to have mystic powers and have been used for cure, divination and rituals associated with birth and rebirth. In many societies bones are preserved after death and treated with special care, often given a special burial or displayed as objects of worship.
It is not only human bones that have become sacred but also those of certain animals. Specific species are venerated in different cultures where they might be used for divination or in shamanic rituals. Animal bones have also become part of costumes and headdresses worn to reanimate the bones and imbue the wearer with the animal’s characteristics or powers.
The importance and power of bones has much to do with their longevity. When all other traces have disappeared, bones remain and in these bones we find traces of the being that once lived.