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Memento mori showing a half skull, half head, Europe, before 1936

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One side of this carved wooden head shows a woman’s face. The other side shows a skull. It is thought to be a memento mori. These objects are reminders of death and the shortness of life. The woman is shown eating an apple as a snake coils around the skull part of her head. This is probably a biblical reference to Eve. Eve was tempted by a snake to eat an apple from a forbidden tree in the Garden of Eden. By eating the apple, Eve is said to have caused the fall of man from paradise to Earth.

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Glossary: memento mori

Symbols intended to remind the viewer of death. Memento mori are often objects such as skulls or hourglasses, but can also be written inscriptions.