Behind the Bones: The History of the Skull Ring
A human skull has been a symbol of death across cultures for thousands of years. So why is it still such a popular symbol?
It is because the symbolism of the skull is much more complicated and
meaningful than it might appear to be on the surface. The image of a
skull has been carved into tombstones. It's also appeared in ancient
art, and has made a cameo in Shakespeare's Hamlet.
It has even been used for jewelry. To the Victorians, a skull ring
was a way to celebrate lost loved ones and a reminder of the wearer's
own mortality. The multi-faceted symbolism of skulls contribute to their
popularity for gothic rings.
In this article, we'll break down the complicated symbolism
surroundings skull rings. So what does that skull ring on your finger
really mean? Read on to find out!
1. Skull Rings and Death Symbolism
The most obvious meaning of a skull is death. The skull is more
recognizable as human than other bones, so it makes a way more powerful
symbol than say, a femur.
Memento mori paintings, for example, use the skull as a metaphor for death. The paintings are supposed to act as reminders that human life is short.
Perhaps one of the most incredible examples of a memento mori artwork is the Kutna Hora bone church.
It is decorated with thousands of bones, making up everything from
crosses to a chandelier. Of course, skulls feature prominently.
Rather than intending to be unpleasant or morbid, the use of a skull
as an image of death is simply stating a fact. It is up to the viewer to
reflect upon what this means to them.
A skull ring works in much the same way as these paintings. It is a
way of embracing and understanding your fate. A skull on your finger is a
modern memento mori.
2. Skulls and Carpe Diem
Carpe diem is a latin phrase meaning "seize the day."
While the skull acts as a reminder of death, it also carries an important message.
Since your time is limited, you should make the most of it. You should seize every day you have and live life to the fullest.
This is why skull rings are often popular symbols for free spirits
like bikers or rockers. They are people who know that life is short, so
you should enjoy it while it lasts.
3. A Reminder of Life
The image of the skull represents many different things at once. At
the same time that it symbolizes death, it also symbolizes the power of
Historically, it has often been associated with the afterlife in many
religions, from the Aztecs to Christianity. In these contexts, it is a
hopeful celebration of everlasting life.
The skull is what remains of a person after everything else has
rotted away. It is lasting, a permanent reminder of the person who it
belonged to. It symbolically celebrates a person's continuing legacy and
A skull says that traces of a person still remain after they die. It
does this whether it is a reminder of their physical body, or of the
impact that they had upon the world.
This celebration of life is especially evident in celebrations like Mexico's Day of the Dead.
Ancestors and relatives who have passed away are honored in a
celebration that revolves entirely around skulls and symbols of death.
What surprises most outsiders is how joyous the celebration is!
They decorate using "sugar skulls," which are beautiful, intricately painted skulls. As an example, check out this sugar skull ring. The bright colors of the festival work alongside the skull imagery to create a celebration of life as well as death.
4. A Symbol of Equality
No matter how rich or how poor, how good or how bad, everyone will die one day.
Death is the great equalizer among people.
As reminders of death, skulls are symbols of this as well. A skull is
a symbol of equality. This is because it reminds us that we all share a
common fate. And, as a skull, we all look the same. The greatest king's
skull looks no different than the poorest beggar's.
When you look at a skull, all you know is that it belonged to a
person. In death, we are reminded that we are all truly the same.
5. Toughness and Rebellion
Throughout history, skulls have been worn and used by the rebels of society.
Pirates flew the jolly roger, a flag that featured a skull and
crossbones. They have been used as emblems by everyone from Medieval
knights to modern bikers. These people flaunted the skull to show off
their own bravery and toughness in the face of death.
This has created a new meaning for the skull as a symbol. It has come
to represent people who live on the outside of society. It represents
rebels, and people who play by their own rules, whether that is good or
Why Wear a Skull Ring?
All of this complicated symbolic meaning is present in a skull ring.
Each one carries centuries of symbolic power. Even if the average person
doesn't know the exact meaning, they will still have a sense of the
power of the image.
Many people choose to wear a skull ring because they believe in the
things that it represents: life and death, rebellion, and a reminder to
live every moment to the fullest.
Wearing a skull ring tells the world that these beliefs are important
to you. Some people may not like to look at a skull. They don't care
for the reminder of death.
Those who do wear them appreciate the complexity of the symbol. Plus,
it shows others your beliefs, meaning you can find kindred spirits who
appreciate the symbolism as much as you do.
Plus, they are versatile. There are countless options to suit different tastes, whether you prefer a more understated, subtle look or something eye-catching (literally!).
Now that you have a fuller understanding of the complicated symbolism
of skull rings, you can find the one that best expresses your own
interpretations. Check out our catalog for more inspiration.