Every time I write a V. Note, I get ideas for five more. Then I spend the next month driving myself crazy because I don’t make time to write again. I’m sure all of you can relate to the constant vigilance it takes to make time for creating. In the previous post I talked about Haniwa, Japanese clay figures that were produced for funerals from the 3rd to 6th centuries in Japan. Japanese Haniwa Haniwa: Clay sculptures in the forms of cylinders, human figures, animals, and architectural elements. They were placed at the tombs of elite members of Japanese society. Looking at the haunting but cheerful Haniwa led me wonder what other cultures were doing during this time period. That plopped me into a topic that doesn’t come up much: funerary art history. There have been some fun times to be dead, as various cultures around the world produced some distinct and fascinating funerary art. I’ll see what I can dig up to share with you here. Roman Catacomb Art Roman Catacomb Art: The burials of Jewish, pagan and early Christian Roman citizens in the Roman catacombs began in the 2nd century and ended in the 5th century, so ran parallel in time to the Haniwa in Japan. At the end of the 2nd century and starting in the 3rd century, Roman catacombs served as the official cemetery of Rome’s Christian Church. Christians decorated catacombs with frescoes, sculptures, and inscriptions. The earliest identifiably Christian art consists of a few wall and ceiling frescoes, which continued to be decorated in a sketchy style derived from Roman impressionism through the 4th century. The catacombs are extensive, reaching a depth of at least 20 meters beneath the surface, and many of them stretch for 20 kilometers. These catacombs are located just beyond the city center, as it was against the law to bury the dead within the confines of the city walls. Pictured above: “Adam and Eve”, painting from the late 3rd century (Cemetery of the Saints Peter and Marcellinus, Rome). “The Good Shepherd”, 3rd century, Catacombs of Priscilla, Rome. “The Good Shepherd sculpture in marble. Rome. Catacombs of Domitilla, 3rd century. Unlike the Haniwa that were only made for the upper class in Japan, the Christians buried rich and poor together, so the Roman catacombs were filled with stinky dead people from all casts. Isn’t that nice? If only the holy trinity was as cute as a Haniwa. That’s what we really need after death: more adorable characters. More funerary art posted soon!