As the good people at the Sedlec Ossuary in the Czech Republic have proven, it seems we can all still be of some use after we leave this earth... as ornate interior decorations.
In what can only be described as Changing Rooms / 60 Minute Makeover / Backyard Blitz gone mad, Sedlec Ossuary put all those pesky bones that were literally lying around their cemetery and basement into the shape of vases, coats of arms, chandeliers and furniture.
So why does a small Roman Catholic Chapel on the outskirts of Kutna Hora in the Czech Republic decide to forgo the painted feature wall, strand of fairy lights or other more conventional interior design trends in favour of lovely bones?
Way back in the thirteen century, the monastery's abbot went to the Holy Land and brought back some dirt from the site where Jesus was believed to have been crucified outside Jerusalem.
Obviously customs was pretty slack at this time and/or the abbot failed to declare this to them upon his return. Needless to say, it's not recommended anyone attempt this today as the Australian entry customs form clearly asks whether you carrying any dirt, seeds, plants or plant products.
Anyway, the abbot sprinkled this dirt around the cemetery prompting something of a property boom for the dead. Suddenly everyone in Central Europe wanted to be buried there. Subsequent plagues, wars and general passing of the years meant the cemetery became full to bursting.
Over time, a Gothic church built on the site started to be used as a storeroom for "old bones" to make way for "new bones" in the cemetery. The ossuary is estimated to contain the skeletons of up to 70,000 people. (Warning: "dad joke" ahead) Clearly people were just dying to be buried here.
In 1870, the local aristocratic Schwarzenberg family, realising they were not going to get into the pages of Vogue Living with this unholy mess, decided to bring some order to the chaos.
Liking the work of Czech woodcarver Frantisek Rint, they gave him a free reign on the piles of bones, resulting in a unique decorating style which can only be described as "Macabre Chic."
If there was an award for recycling at the time, I think he would have won it.
It actually would have been amazing to watch Rint at work; seeing him choose some bones over others and trying different creations. It also would have been interesting to see the local reaction at the time to his creations: "Is that Aunty Beryl?"
Stepping inside the ossuary, and once you've become accustomed to the gruesome factor, it's hard not to appreciate the artistry and craftsmanship which has gone into the pieces.
In a weird way, it also gives you an appreciation of human anatomy that would make your school biology teacher proud. After all, it's not often you come face to face with human skulls and bones.
And the whole concept certainly validates the old adage used by countless home improvement shows: you really don't need to spend a lot of money to make a big impact.
It's also a startling reminder that we really are all the same deep down. Literally. Once you strip away the skin, tissue and muscles, we all just look like that.
And really, how much more macabre is having your bones converted into a chandelier compared to just having your bones rotting away under a tombstone. If anything, it's nice you're still being of appreciated long after you've gone.
Knowing that design trends fall out of fashion only to later come back into vogue, you can't help but wonder if the "bone look" is the next one to be resurrected?
Slowly it’s getting winter over here but the sun is shining every day. In Holland, I heard it should be around 30 degrees but despite that I am enjoying everyday here in New Zealand. Enjoying the kiwi culture and the country that has his own will and some very special things:
Only in New Zealand there’s beer ice cream. Yeah, for real! When I first arrived in New Zealand I saw a big poster of the Icebar company. I thought they were joking. Icecream with alcohol? Icecream is for kids, right? Not in New Zealand apparently. After a few weeks I finally tried it and it was delicious. You should try it!
Only in New Zealand we have rain, sunshine, rain, sunshine, rain, sunshine. That’s pretty much the weather for one day in New Zealand. In New Zealand you can have literally four seasons in one day but don’t be sad because most of the times the sun wins. Give it up for the sun!
Only in New Zealand there’s a sheep festival. Who comes up with these things? With so many sheeps (for every kiwi there are nine sheeps available) there’s no way denying, right? And it’s a once in a lifetime experience. (Find out for yourself on my blog about the sheep festival.)
Only in New Zealand hitchhiking is as normal as anything. It doesn’t matter if you’re old, young, black, white, man or woman. Kiwi’s are the most friendliest people and if they can help someone, they always will. So if you’re not in a hurry, hitchhiking is the best way. It’s even possible in Auckland, when you meet the right people...like, Brent. It was friday afternoon and I went to La Zeppa (a local pub) with my manager, Brent. On our way back, when we walked to Brent’s car, we bumped into 3 german girls. They where looking for Ponsonby Road. “Yeah, that’s at least an half hour walk up the hill” I told them, but Brent had another solution. Why not drop them off. Yeah, why not? First the german girls weren’t so sure but after I told them I was Dutch they didn’t have much doubt. So off we went!
Only in New Zealand do they have longest name for a place and shit that name is loooonnnngggg. Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateaturipukakapikimaungahoronukupo-kaiwhenuakitanatahu. Yeah, try to pronounce that. I dare you!