Mexican art, history & origins
This symbol seems to have its origins in the Middle Ages, during the Crusades, on armour or military equipment used by some European armies. As an annunciator of terror, battles were followed by skull exposures in public places to remind people of the triumph and frighten neighbouring cities.
For example, the symbol was used by the Italian Death Company in the 12th century.
These ships flying the Jolly Roger flag would have considerably increased piracy at that time in the Atlantic, Channel, North Sea and Mediterranean.
In the 18th century, during the search for the Route of India by European sailors, piracy once again developed strongly.
To be feared by other ships and to announce the battle, the pirates then spread black flags with a white skull to spread terror on the seas by killing crews and appropriating the ships and the wealth they contained.
The symbol, under the German name of totenkopf, is displayed by an order of knighthood in the 17th century and then by units of hussars in the 18th century, in particular the 5th Regiment and then the Black Legion, and taken up by the Hussars of Death of the French Revolution and the Russian Alexandria hussars.
It will continue with the Freikorps and the Wehrmacht's armoured units. The Totenkopf will also be used as a Nazi emblem, particularly for the SS.
The importance of the skull lies in the representation of this part of the body in many European and Asian legends...
In the Mayan civilization in America, which originated in prehistoric times, belief in gods can be divided into two categories, according to a binary distinction between good and evil.
In Asia, we find the symbolism of the skull in Buddhism and Hinduism through their religious art...
In Christian culture the morbid fatality of the skull is qualified by faith towards the afterlife and a life after death. The biblical conception of the skull is illustrated by Golgotha, also known as the "mount of the skull" where Adam would be buried, his skull and tibias being represented at the foot of Jesus' cross.
For the anecdote, Salvador Dali, Picasso, Andy Warhol and William Shakespeare also used the image of the skull in their works. Not to mention the famous HellsAngels logo or the famous pirate flag, made up in the collective imagination of a skull and crossbones.