It’s safe to presume that for as long as humans have existed, they’ve grappled with the inevitability of death. For much of that existence, they have found ways to immortalize the struggle via memento mori. Roughly translating from Latin as “Remember that you must die, ” memento mori are symbolic reminders of death in art, literature, philosophy, fashion, and architecture. The common symbols associated with them—skulls, fruit, flowers, snuffed candles, and clocks—serve to remind us that life is fleeting and This story is from Kinfolk Issue Thirty-Eight Buy Now Related Stories Arts & Culture Issue 46 Object Matters An unperfumed history of the scented candle. Arts & Culture Issue 45 Object Matters A curious history of novelty objects. Arts & Culture Issue 43 Object Matters A fuzzy history of the carpet. Arts & Culture Issue 42 Object Matters A modest history of the codpiece. Arts & Culture Issue 41 Object Matters The strange, hermitic history of the garden gnome. Arts & Culture Issue 47 Alice Sheppard On dance as a channel to commune with the body—even when it hurts.