Recoleta Cemetery — The City of the Dead
A Doric-columned portico marks the entrance to the city of the dead, Recoleta Cemetery in Here is where the great and powerful of ’s history rest in peace. Former presidents, military generals, artists, scientists and, most famously, Eva Perón (picture 7), are buried here in fabulous mausoleums of stone and bronze.
There are more than 6,400 tombs densely packed against one another along narrow alleyways and somber avenues. A cemetery with mausoleums like these are rare - row upon row of narrow miniature stone buildings, some four or five stories tall. Each unique and topped with gilded ornaments and detailed carvings.
Jules Verne’s Amazing Tombstone, Amiens, France
Jules Verne (1828-1905) was one of the most innovative and visionary writers of the 19th century. He was a pioneer of both the science fiction and fantasy/adventure genres of writing. He wrote such famed novels as 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Around the World in 80 Days, Journey to the Center of the Earth and many more. His books are better known from the many films they inspired. The famed author passed away from complications of diabetes at the age of 77 in Amiens, France, where he was buried in the Cimetière de la Madeleine.
Two years after his death in 1907, a sculpture entitled “Vers l’Immortalité et l’Eternelle Jeunesse” (“Towards immortality and Eternal Youth”) was erected atop his tombstone. Designed by sculptor Albert Roze, and using the actual death mask of the writer, the statue depicts the shrouded figure of Jules Verne breaking out of his own tombstone, emerging from the grave and reaching up towards the heavens.
An illustration of Jules Verne’s tombstone monument was featured on the May 1934 (Vol 9, No 1.) cover of the science fiction magazine Amazing Stories.
Curse of the “Black Angel”
In the quiet, peaceful Oakland Cemetery stands an ominous statue. She is an angel, with very long, outstretched feathery wings with one wing raised above her head, the other sloping down. Her hair is hidden beneath a hood that is attached to a long, flowing cloak. She is pitch black. She stands stoic, her face expressionless. Local lore and superstition surround this beautiful, but eerie, Angel of Death.
There is a curse tied to the “Black Angel” cemetery monument, an urban legend said to bring sickness, misfortune and even death to anyone who dares touch her. The legend also foretells that if a pregnant woman should walk beneath the angel’s outstretched wings, she would suffer a miscarriage. But if a virgin should touch the black angel, he or she alone would survive. The Angel of Death supposedly grows darker and darker with the passage of each Halloween.
A locally famous monument, the 8 1/2 foot tall “Black Angel” statue was erected in 1913 as a memorial to Nicholas Feldevert. The story of the Black Angel dates back to the late 19th century when Teresa Feldevert traveled to Iowa City from the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Her first marriage produced her son, Edward Dolezal, who died in Iowa City in 1891. Teresa had the bronze angel statue made in Chicago and transported to Iowa City to be placed in the cemetery in 1913. Her second husband, Nicholas Feldevert’s ashes were placed in a repository at the base of the statue. When Teresa died in 1924, her ashes were placed beside her husband’s. Though the monument displays Teresa’s birthdate, there is no sign of her deathdate.
Indonesia’s Real Walking Dead
The world is a strange place. Most of us have seen the television show The Walking Dead on AMC. In Indonesia, they have something similar but real…not quite as gory but definitely creepy and worthy of a horror film all on its own.
The Toradja people do practice something akin to the rising of the dead. It seems that the people believe that death is a long process, sometimes taking years as the deceased gradually work their way toward Puya (the afterlife). Very elaborate measures must be taken during the funeral to ensure that the loved one makes it safely to that destination.
Because the funeral arrangements are so extensive, they are also very expensive. For this reason, a body is sometimes placed in a temporary coffin. During this time, the family can accumulate the necessary funds to pay for a proper funeral, which includes a cave or hanging casket, a multi-water buffalo slaughter, chanting, singing, music, stone and wooden effigies to protect the soul during travel, and so on.
Once the funds are raised, so is the dead. It seems that the Toradja genuinely believe that the dead are able to walk themselves to their new burial site. More likely, and what we are seeing depicted in the picture, is that the somewhat mummified corpse is removed from its temporary coffin and transported upright to the permanent site. As “corpse walking” is part of the tradition, the body is held in the standing position to simulate ambulation.
They say the corpse is agreed using black magic. They do this because the cemeteries are in mountain regions, so no one wants to lead the deceased to the place they must walk alone.
The body follows, guided by an “expert” in black magic, which takes them to the site. However there is a rule, if called by name, the body falls and will not raise again. The real Walking Dead!
Whether laid to rest in a simple grave or a grand tomb, the human body rarely survives the sweep of time. But in the few places in the world where people deliberately mummified their dead, or the environmental conditions were right—very dry or wet—flesh and bone are extremely well-preserved, such as this mummified baby found in Peru.
(Source: National Geographic)
- Skull of Richard III - Recently discovered with his entire skeleton.
- The Lovers - These two skeletons, discovered in 1972 at Hasanlu in Iran, were nicknamed the Lovers for the affectionate pose they were found in.
- Possible bones of Mona Lisa - The skeleton that woman historians believe was Leonardo da Vinci’s most famous muse, Lisa Gherardin.
- The Elephant Man - Joseph Carey Merrick, born in 1862, never suffered from elephantiasis, but he believed his mother had been frightened by an elephant, causing the bulging tumors that sprouted from his face and eventually reached a circumference of three feet.
- Mesopotamian Human Sacrifice - skulls discovered at the royal cemetery at Ur in Iraq. Around 2,000 burials were recovered, attesting to the practice of human sacrifice on a large scale.
- Skull of pianist André Tchaikowsky - before his death, he donated his skull to the Royal Shakespeare Company to be used in the play Hamlet as Yorick’s skull.