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Dance Macabre

(644 words)

Author(s): Haustein, Jens
Dance macabre (or “dance of death”; Ger. Totentanz) is an allegorical theme in European art of the late Middle Ages. Typically involving the juxtaposed portrayal of either a clergyman or a layperson (Clergy and Laity) shown dancing with a dead person or with death itself, personified as a skeleton, it consists ideally of a picture and text (at first monologic, later dialogic) and is widespread throughout Europe both inside and outside of churches and also in MSS and books. We do not know the origin of the dance macabre (Spain, France, or Germany?), nor do we know the time it began (ca. 1350? …