An allegory of death is the personification of death. Because death is abstract, we personify it through physical representations that give it a face. These may vary by culture and change over time.
The Black Man, Dracula, mutant monsters, zombies and man-eating werewolves. These are just some of the » mythical creatures » that man has created to project his fears. ☠️ We tell each other spooky stories about these terrifying beings to channel our own dark sides.
We don’t know what death is or what it looks like. In order to give a face and sometimes a voice to this opposing force of life , we have created numerous images to give death an identity throughout history. You will shortly be our Top 10 Allegories of Death to get to know each other. But just before that, you need to grab one of our skull t-shirts, which alone represent the dark side of life. Click on this link to discover them 👇.
Show that you are not afraid of death by wearing a « »skull and crossbones t-shirt » » .
Allegory #10: The Dullahan
The Dullahan is a headless horseman that moves single-mindedly through the Irish countryside. His head, which he carries in one hand, has pale, glossy skin and a crooked smile that stretches from ear to ear. When the Dullahan holds its head high, its piercing black eyes can spot its target from afar. He rides a horse so fast that the bushes catch fire as he passes. 🔥
No matter how tightly a door is barred, it always opens in the face of the Dullahan. Even those who aren’t his target have to avoid him. He throws a bucket of blood at passers-by or hits them with his whip, which is made out of a human spine. 👀 This death runner however, has one weakness: he is inexplicably afraid of gold. When traveling by road, it is best if you carry gold in your pocket. If the Dullahan ever runs you over, drop the gold in front of it and it will disappear with a horrid howl.
Allegorie #9: Washing Woman
The Bean Nighe is a fairytale spirit from Scottish folklore. According to legend, he is found in a stream washing the blood-stained clothes of a man who is about to die. A Bean Nighe is created when a woman dies during childbirth. Your spirit becomes a washer fairy. 🧺
Unlike other death omens , a woman you meet is because she means well by you! If you stand between her and the water, she will grant you three wishes and allow you to ask her three questions, which she will answer you strictly truthfully. But she will also ask you three questions that you must answer truthfully.
The Bean Nighe has an Irish counterpart called the Banshee . But unlike their Scottish sisters, these washerwomen moved away from the riverbanks and gathered around the homes of the condemned. When you catch a Bean Sidhe, you can get them to reveal the name of the person about to die. She always has the appearance of an old woman with bloodshot eyes (from crying a lot), long bushy hair and large sagging breasts.
Allegory #8: Witch Pesta
In 1349, a ship carrying the Black Death docked in Bergen, Norway. The grain load was teeming with plague-ridden rats harboring infected fleas. For six months, the plague spread throughout Norway, killing 50% of the population. The Norwegians personified the Black Death in the form of an old woman named Pesta, the plague witch. 🧙
She was carrying either a rake or a broom. If she got into an area and started raking, many would die. The plague witch also existed in Sweden, but in her version she was preceded by a man. The man carried a shovel, and if he went into a house and started shoveling, it meant some of the occupants would die. If the plague witch followed him and started sweeping, everyone would die.
Luckily, if you’re willing to accept death, the plague witch can be brought to her senses. In a fairy tale, a boatswain takes the witch out onto the river. By correctly guessing her identity, she grants him a quick death instead of the days of suffering that the plague causes. In another story, a mother and her husband sleep with their child hiding under the covers. The mother wakes up to find the witch sweeping her room. She pleads: « In Jesus name, there is nothing left to get here. » The witch decides to believe her, so she kills the woman and her husband, but spares the child. 🙏
Allegory #7: Thanatos
In Greek mythology, Thanatos was the son of Nyx, the goddess of the night, and Erebos, the god of darkness. His twin brother was Hypnos, the god of sleep. The two lived together in the Underworld, where they slept in the same bed. Thanatos had an angelic appearance, with wings made of feathers and a sword at his waist. 🗡 His job was to collect the souls of those who died peacefully.
The Greek poet Hesiod wrote: « Thanatos has a heart of iron, and his spirit within him is as merciless as bronze: he holds fast the man whom he has once grasped, and hates even the immortal gods « .
Thanatos can be defeated, but it’s not easy. He was defeated by force only once, when he came to harvest the soul of Heracles’ friend. Heracles jumped on Thanatos and sent him back to Hell, battered and empty-handed.
Allegory #6: The Korean Grim Reaper
The Korean Grim Reaper is called Jeoseung Saja . His task is to lead the souls to the king of the Otherworld so that they can be judged there. Jeoseung Saja dresses in long black dresses and a large black hat. Pale skin surrounds his deep-set eyes. Their weaknesses vary from province to province. In Chilgok, she will avoid silver and orange, which are used to ward off evil.
A long time ago, on Mount Geumo, there lived a retired general who wished to avoid death. General Sineui had planted orange trees around the walls of his estate, forming a barrier to keep death away. Emissary of the Underworld to enter. When Jeoseung Saja picked him up, he spent days looking around his property. However, Jeoseung Saja discovered a shameful sin: since the peach was considered an evil fruit, she used it to climb walls. 🍑
Allegorie #5: Shinigami
The Japanese Shinigami have recently become popular due to their appearance in manga comics such as Death Note, in which they are described as a race of demonic creatures. These shinigami prolong their own lives by writing a human’s name on a piece of magical paper called a « Death Note ». When a shinigami writes a name, the human dies instantly and the shini steals the remaining years of his life and adds them to his own lifespan. ⏱
The story begins when a bored shinigami decides to give a human his death certificate. However, the shinigami in Japanese folklore are very different. Although it might be misleading to call them part of folklore since the concept of these spirits was not introduced until the 19th century. They are based on the Western Grim Reaper and even share a similar appearance.
In Shinigami folklore, people’s lifespans were measured using candles. When a person’s candle went out, it was time for that person to die. When you are ill, you will see a Shinigami sitting at the foot of your bed, waiting for your condition to worsen. When you are about to die, the Shinigami will stand over you.
Allegory #4: Again
Ankou collects the dead souls from the cemeteries and transports them to the underworld in a carriage. In each municipality, the last person to die in the calendar year becomes the Ankou of the following year. When there are many deaths during the year, the ankou is particularly mean: he looks like a tall, slender man in a long coat with a wide-brimmed hat that gives him shade. 🎩
He drives a carriage drawn by two white horses: one is young and healthy, the other old and withered. When the Ankou is patrolling a graveyard, its head spins like a silent siren in a constant circle, so the souls of the dead cannot escape his gaze. According to some tales, two skeletons follow the ankou. These skeletons collect the escaped souls and throw them into the carriage.
Allegory #3 : The Angel of Death
In Judaism, God created the angel of death on the first day of creation. The Angel of Death has twelve wings and its body is covered with eyes. At the hour of your death, this angel stands over your head with drawn sword. When you see it, you’ll have spasms and your jaw will open. The angel’s sword in your mouth, your face will turn yellow and you will die. ⚔️
The saying « It tastes like death » is said to go back to this ritual. But although the angel himself does not distinguish between good and evil , he follows God’s instructions. By confessing your sins and living a good life, it is possible to convince God to keep the angel of death away.
Allegory #2: With the Sith
In the Scottish Highlands, it is advised to beware of a dog the size of a young bull with paws resembling human hands. Its shaggy fur is dark green, the color of the fairies. « Cu » means « dog » and « Sith » means « fairy ». If you hear his howl three times, then you will die. But if you can hide and flee from the third howl, then you’ll be spared – until next time… 🐶
But this fairytale dog is more than just an omen of death . He is also the guardian of the fairies. If the Cu Sith finds a nursing woman, he can either let her live or kidnap her to take her to the house of the fairies, thereby forcing her to milk the fairies’ children.
Allegory #1: The Grim Reaper
By the 14th century, Christian artwork had death personified in the form of one or more angels. But the Black Death killed 30 to 60 percent of the European population. After living with the disease and the bodies piled up in the streets, the artists changed their view of death. She was no longer a pious angel, but a sinister skeleton. As the plague grew worse, artists began depicting death with The Great Grim Reaper . 🔪
She wears a large hooded cloak and holds a scythe, which is a harvesting tool. She mows the souls of the dead to separate them from the body, like a farmer mows the wheat fields. She wears her large black tunic , the color associated with mourning. Sometimes the Grim Reaper rides a horse.
This ultimate symbol of death is very popular with some of us. Gothics, metalheads, bikers and many others use the image to send a strong sign of belonging to their community. But also to symbolize that you are not afraid of death! If you are also one of the brave ones then join the movement and adopt one of the best items depicting the grim reaper. Discover them by simply clicking on the image below.
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