Sitting Grim Reaper - Black Obsidian
approx. size 9cm height x 5.6cm x 5.4cm
For thousands of years, various cultures have had figures to represent death. One of the most common and enduring of these is the Grim Reaper—usually a skeletal figure, who is often shrouded in a dark, hooded robe and carrying a scythe to “reap” human souls.
The Grim Reaper seems to have appeared in Europe during the 14th century. It was during this time that Europe was dealing with what was then the world’s worst pandemic, the Black Death, believed to be the result of the plague.
But why the skeletal figure? Why the scythe? Why the robe? Skeletons are symbolic of death, representing the human body after it has decayed. The robe is thought to be reminiscent of the robes that religious figures of the time wore when conducting funerary services. The scythe is an apt image taken from agricultural practices of the time: harvesters used scythes to reap or harvest crops that were ready to be plucked from the earth…and, well, that’s kind of what happens when humans die: they are plucked from this earth.