Common Aspects of the Danse Macabre

Because of its focus on the afterlife, the Danse Macabre has deep religious connotations. Saintly relics and art depicting the violence associated with the death of Jesus contributed to a cultural obsession with the macabre. Linguists believe that even the word macabre stems from the slaughter of the Maccabees (leaders of a Jewish rebel army who took control of Judea, 164 BCE–63 BCE) which was depicted in a well-known miracle play of the Middle Ages. These Danse Macabre icons are hidden in the repeated woodblock border of a fifteenth-century printed Book of Hours, a devotional text.