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Memento Mori

The Dead Among Us

Paul Koudounaris


A macabre, spectacular and thought-provoking survey of human remains used in decorative, commemorative or devotional contexts across the world today, from the author of Heavenly Bodies and The Empire of Death.

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Memento Mori takes the reader on a ghoulish but beautiful tour of some of the world’s more unusual sacred sites and traditions, in which human remains are displayed for the benefit of the living. From burial caves in Indonesia festooned with bones, to skulls smoking cigarettes, wearing beanie hats and sunglasses, and decorated with garlands of flowers in South America, Paul Koudounaris ventures beyond the grave to find messages of hope and salvation. His glorious colour photographs and informed commentaries reveal that in many places, the realms of the living and the dead are nowhere near so distinct as contemporary Western society would have us believe.


'In the midst of life, you need a good book about death. This is it'
Fortean Times

'An engrossing, albeit unsettling, read'
Royal Photographic Society Journal

'Guaranteed to make your hair stand on end'
Birmingham Post

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Product Information

Book Details

Format: Hardback

Edition Type: Compact edition

Size: 28.0 x 18.7 cm

Extent: 216 pp

Publication date: 7 April 2022

ISBN: 9780500252611

Contents List

Introduction: Memento Mori
1. The Dead Will Rise: Macabre Masterpieces of the Nineteenth Century
2. The Gates of Paradise: Bones and Salvation in the Christian Tradition
3. They Walk Among Us: Mysterious Burial Caves in Asia
4. Blessed Souls: Elaborate Ossuaries in the Catholic World
5. They Shall Not Perish: Memorials in Bone to Victims of Tragedy
6. Remains to be Seen: Mummies and other Exquisite Corpses
7. Crossing the Border: The Living and the Dead in Bolivia
8. Heavenly Glory: Decorated Bones from Around the World

About the Author

Paul Koudounaris has a doctorate in Art History from the University of California and has written widely on European ossuaries and charnel houses for both academic and popular journals. He is also the author of Heavenly Bodies and Empire of Death, both published by Thames & Hudson.