Richard Weigand is currently exploring skulls as symbols and subject. He explains that his production of wooden skulls arises from the convergence of a philosophic interest and an economic opportunity: samurai and a CNC.


Finally, a skull with its lower jaw attached, especially with most of its teeth in place, can be interpreted as grinning. For this reason, even though it may seem to some as macabre or fantastical, there have always been depictions of skulls (and skeletons) as humorous. There’s a famous black-and-white cartoon with dancing skeletons in rows (Disney Studio’s Silly Symphony “Dancing Skeletons” 1929); there’s a talking skull who “drinks” imaginary wine in Peter S. Beagle’s fantasy, The Last Unicorn; there are the many renditions of cheerful skulls and skeletons in happy celebrations of the Day of the Dead, in Mexico.

From Code of the Samurai by Thomas Cleary…

One who is supposed to be a warrior considers it his foremost concern to keep death in mind at all times, every day and every night, from the morning of New Year’s Day through the night of New Year’s Eve.

As long as you keep death in mind at all times, you will also fulfill the ways of loyalty and familial duty. You will also avoid myriad evils and calamities, you will be physically sound and healthy, and you will live a long life. What is more, your character will improve and virtue will grow.

Skulls – An Introduction… Part 2

Another reason some of us are drawn to skulls may be that with its larger-than-eyes eye sockets, a skull generates a degree of neoteny – the tendency to be drawn to and feel protective of things that appear as young or babies. Think of Disney’s way of drawing all its sweet, tender, heroic animal characters (for example, Bambi) with extra-large eyes. Think, even, of how for thousands of years, people have applied cosmetics to their eyes in an effort to make them appear larger and thus more appealing. In today’s fashion magazines as well as on the walls of ancient Egyptian tombs, figures are shown with exaggerated, kohl-lined eyes.

Skulls – An Introduction… Part 1

It’s interesting to discover how one man’s production of carved wooden skulls connects to history, mythology, anthropology, psychology, and even physiology… There’s a small part of the human brain that has a very specific responsibility: it recognizes faces. This ability is so strong that even the simple image of two dots followed by a small circle and curved line – :o) — is instantly recognized as representing a face. It has been suggested that because this primitive part of the brain does not distinguish between the image of a human skull and that of a human face, skulls have come to represent both death (the event) and the history the skull represents (the life of the deceased). This may go some way toward explaining both the attraction and the repulsion of skulls. We are afraid of or react negatively to the death they represent, but we are drawn to the memory of our loved ones who have passed on.