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Shakespeare Connected - Not to Be: Death in the Collection

Memento Mori Seal

‘We will have rings, and things, and fine array’ (The Taming of the Shrew, 2.1.325)

This wax impression was made by a signet ring used to sign or seal documents much like you would with your signature today. ‘Memento mori’ is a Latin term meaning ‘remember death.’ But why wear this sort of object on your person? Reminders of one’s own mortality were a way to prompt reflection on the importance of leading a good life that would set you up for the next one. Skulls, hourglasses, and bones feature in everything from artworks to architecture, poems to personal ornaments.

SBT 1872-4


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