Kutná Hora is known for the curious “Bone Church” or Ossuary (in Czech Kostnice). It is located in the suburb of Sedlec. The Ossuary is in the underground chapel of the Church of All Saints. It contains the bones of about 40,000 people who died of the plague in 1318 and during the Hussite wars in the 15th century. They were originally buried at the church cemetery. When the cemetery was closed at the end of the 15th century, the exhumed bones were transferred to the chapel and compiled into pyramids. In 1870, František Rint of Česká Skalice arranged the bones and skulls into creative decorations that include bells, the Schwarzenberg coat-of-arms, and a chandelier.
Featured on countless travel lists and videos online, Sedlec Ossuary’s reputation had preceded it. I mean how often do you get to see a chandelier made of bones? If you’re the kind of person who likes the spooky, bizarre or macabre things in life then Kutna Hora Bone Church will not disappoint. I know that the day trip to the Bohemian town was certainly a highlight of my trip to the Czech Republic.
Visitors to the bone church often describe it as macabre, eerie or creepy and I once asked the lady at the desk if she ever felt bothered to be working there. She flipped her hand in a dismissive way and said “Pfft! They’re only bones, they won’t hurt you; it’s the living who scare me”.
Like the lady at the desk in the bone church in Kutna Hora I did not find the art installation there creepy, macabre or eerie. It was actually very beautiful.
Likewise, I do not find the concept of hanging coffins creepy or macabre. Located 275 km. north of Manila, Sagada is famous for the “hanging coffins”, examples of which are shown here. This was a traditional way of burying people that is not in use anymore. Forebears of current residents practised the unusual burial practice of hanging and stacking coffins, hewed from tree trunks, in the limestone karst cliffs and caves near town. If I ever make it to the Philippines this will be on my checklist of things to see.
However, to be really frank, it will be hard for me to match the awe I experienced when I visited the Bone Chapel in Kutna Hora in the Czech Republic. My personal favourite was the coat of arms of the Schwarzenberg family, especially the segment depicting a raven picking the eye from an invading soldier. If you’re going to depict a raven eating somebody’s eye, what more appropriate medium could there be?
Seek out and share examples of what could be deemed installation art. Here are some examples of things to be found in Victoria.
Installation Honoring Ancestors