Momento mori is a Latin phrase that translates to ‘Remember death’, or, ‘Remember you must die’. This phrase derives from the Latin Christian religion dating back to the Medieval Times. This expression came from the theory and practices of the mortality of life that we live.
When thinking of death, one may associate that with feeling alone or afraid. This term however is supposed to demonstrate the fact that everyone and everything eventually dies, it is the most natural part of life so be triumphant over the idea instead. Memento mori is another reminder to oneself to live every day to the fullest because you never know when your time may come.
Memento Mori Designs
Memento mori has always held its spot in the artistic world as well as the religious and ancient Latin language. The reminder that we are all, but mortal is an exultant and joyful thought, we play our role in the universe the best we can, and we pass on to perhaps another dimension, be it Heaven or Hell. The phrase Memento Mori could be tattooed and used as a graphic in many different ways.
Often seen is just the two words themselves, when getting the tattoo of just the words ‘Memento Mori’, placement is key. Popular spots to get this would be across the chest, leading up the forearm, or going down the side of your rib cage. Depending on what kind of text you want, this is usually done in a Latin word font style of writing. Cursive writing of ‘Momento Mori’ is another style.
Not only can you get the words spelled out but a lot of those who have this inked on their skin get an image along with it. More than often, these images depict death. Different designs of skulls are an example. Written in script, the words flow around or above/below the skull. This kind of scripture-like effect goes well with not just a memento mori tattoo, but basically any image you can think of. The skull image doesn’t always have to be a human skull. Animal skulls such as cows and bulls are popular graphics as well.
The image of an hourglass with sand trickling through the glass body is an image that reflects time in constant motion. As time goes by, we all get older, the older we get the sooner we are to death. The phrase ‘Memento Mori’ along with a graphic of an hourglass signifies just that.
This tattoo is often seen somewhere on the upper arm. To add to the idea of time passing through the hourglass, putting wings of some sort whether they be angelic wings or the wings of a demon, this is a great piece to get on your chest. The hourglass is placed in the middle of your sternum with the wings spread across your chest. Written on the hourglass glass is the phrase ‘Memento Mori’.
The passerine bird the raven and even the close relative, the crow, have often been used as signs of death. The Native Americans believed that the symbol of the raven was a symbol of balance, the good and the bad within someone. Getting a tattoo of a raven or a crow with ‘Memento Mori’ sketched across the bird is more of an ominous and artistic kind of way to get this tattoo inked.
Do you like the idea of a skull and a bird? Many people have combined all three of the images together, maybe even adding in a flower of some sort, most often a rose being held in the bird’s mouth for a bit of a romantic deathly flair.
Memento Mori Art
Memento mori, ever since this Latin phrase came about and because of the religious principle, there are many examples of early Christian art that have memento mori objects within them. The Christian religion has a very strong basis for the afterlife. Life after death is a concept that mainly all religions feed off.
Paintings with as mentioned above, skulls, figures of the hooded grim reaper, dying roses with their petals falling off, and funeral processions are all examples of memento mori, these images remind us of death and that is precisely what memento mori means.
An interesting and famous piece of art that reflects memento mori is a still life form of painting called ‘Vanitas’ this Latin word translates to ‘vanity’. These paintings much like the memento mori paintings include symbols such as skulls, dying flowers, and even worn-out writing utensils.
Memento Mori Architecture
If you have ever been to and taken a walk around an old cemetery, chances are you have seen memento mori-inspired sculptures. Usually found on tombs and crypts, you will see images of the Grim Reaper or multiple skulls engraved in the tombs. The Grim Reaper is to guard your body from any evil demons and entities that may try to enter your spiritual soul. These are normally engraved inside the tombs and even on the outside of the graves.
Memento Mori Jewelry
Before tattoos became more popularized and accepted by society, people, mostly in the Victorian era in Europe, would create memento mori styles of jewelry. This jewelry would, like every memento mori piece of art, depict objects such as skulls and dying plants. This unique style of jewelry is also called ‘mourning jewelry’. These jewelry pieces would often be crafted together with a piece of a deceased loved one’s body. Human remains such as hair, bones, fingernails, and even teeth have been used as decoration. Bracelets and necklaces were the most common pieces of memento mori jewelry.
With all of this kept in mind, deciding on a memento mori tattoo should be a little easier for you. Another helpful tip would be to make sure you are spelling this phrase correctly, also the words memento mori are two different words, combining them into one word would be incorrect. Remembering death and reminding yourself that you too will die has never been so fashionable!
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