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Victorian Postmortem Photography

Painting the dead was a common occurrence for centuries, so it’s no surprise that in the Victorian era, postmortem photography became standard practice. 

The beginnings of memento mori photography can be traced back to the invention of photography. During the 19th century, postmortem portraits were used to announce and mourn the death of a loved one, especially a baby or child. All social classes engaged in the practice, which became more widespread after the introduction of the daguerreotype photo in 1839. The subjects of the photos were generally arranged to appear as if asleep or even in standing positions. 

For the poor during this era, many peoples only photograph was taken after they died. Families would scrape together enough money to have a memorial photo of the deceased family member with surviving members. For many, these staged photos were the only family portraits ever taken. These photos were kept in the family’s memorial album.

source 1, 2, 3

Newly Discovered Deep Sea Worms Unknown to Science

Scientist and marine researcher Alexander Semenov, recently released a number of incredible new photographs of worms, several of which may be completely unknown to science.

Half of the photos were taken near the Great Barrier Reef in Australia during a 2-week conference on marine worms called polychaetes. Semenov photographed 222 different worm species which are now in the process of being studied and documented by scientists.

The other half of the photos were taken during Semenov’s normal course of work at the White Sea Biological Station in northern Russia where he’s head of the scientific divers team. 

(Source: thisiscolossal.com)

Artist Lives in Egg-Shaped, Floating Micro-House for One Year

To explore “the meaning of place at a time of great environmental change”, artist Stephen Turner teamed up with the association of SPUD Group and PAD Studio to build the “Exbury Egg”, an egg-shaped micro-home that floats on water. 

Designed to be “tethered” like a boat, this unusual little house is made to “rise and fall with the tide”—containing bare necessities like a shower, a stove and a hammock bed, the Exbury Egg allows its occupant to more directly experience the seasonal cycles and processes of nature. 

From 15 July 2013 to 14 July 2014, Turner will be living and working inside and around the house, documenting his unique one-year residency in the micro egg home on his blog.

(Source: designtaxi.com)

Death-Related Horror Props

This year round supplier of death-related and Halloween props makes every body parts and items far more gruesome. Human organs, animal skeletons, or even a mummified baby dragon, are all available in this gory collection.

The name of this house of horrors is called Dapper Cadaver which supplies horror movie props including medical props, dinosaur bones, coffins, caskets, and creepy specimen jars.

(via Atlas Obscura)

(Source: dappercadaver.com)

Paris Catacombs

By the light of torches, candles or miners lights, haunting scenes centuries old appear to unfold. Scenes of skulls, bones and death are everywhere. The passages can be as low as three feet overhead or even less. The air heavy with dust, and the ground underfoot flooded with grimy water splashing way over your shoes. In tunnels up to 100 feet below the surface bustle of one of the world’s great cities, another clandestine world exists.

Consulting maps, self-trained guides lead the way, while others look for opportunities to take photographs. Exploring the Paris Catacombs, also known as the Mines of Paris, carries risk. For one, it is strictly illegal, with special police and their dogs patrolling the vast subterranean network. There is also a very real danger of getting lost, as well as the chance of cave-ins in some places.

(Source: environmentalgraffiti.com)

Sokushinbutsu - The Bizarre Practice of Self-Mummification

Scattered throughout Northern Japan around the Yamagata Prefecture are two dozen mummified Japanese monks known as Sokushinbutsu, who caused their own deaths by way of self-mummification. A successful mummification took upwards of ten years. It is believed that many hundreds of monks tried, but only about 20 such mummifications have been discovered to date.

The elaborate process started with three years of eating a special diet consisting only of nuts and seeds, while taking part in a regimen of rigorous physical activity that stripped them of their body fat. They then ate only bark and roots for another three years and began drinking a poisonous tea made from the sap of the Urushi tree, normally used to lacquer bowls.

This caused vomiting and a rapid loss of bodily fluids, and most importantly, it made the body too poisonous to be eaten by maggots. Finally, a self-mummifying monk would lock himself in a stone tomb barely larger than his body, where he would not move from the lotus position. His only connection to the outside world was an air tube and a bell. Each day he rang a bell to let those outside know that he was still alive.

When the bell stopped ringing, the tube was removed and the tomb sealed. After the tomb was sealed, the other monks in the temple would wait another three years, and open the tomb to see if the mummification was successful. If the monk had been successfully mummified, they were immediately seen as a Buddha and put in the temple for viewing. Usually, though, there was just a decomposed body.