Skull and Crossbones and Skeleton Fabrics at J & O


The Dance of Death was a recurring subject in Medieval culture, particularly art, depicting a round dance with Death as the instigator of the festivities. Oftentimes, people from all strata of society – from nobles to peasants – were shown engaging in the dance.

In Germany the Dance of Death was known as the Totentanz, while in France it was called the Danse Macabre. In Spain these scenes were called Danzas de los muertos.

Besides paintings, textbooks were printed with short dialogues between Death and its invitees. One such textbook, printed in Germany circa 1460, relates Death’s call to an emperor:

“Her keyser euch hilft nicht das swert

Czeptir vnd crone sint hy nicht wert

Ich habe euch bey der hand genomen

Ir must an meynen reyen komen”

“Emperor, your sword won’t help you out

Sceptre and crown are worthless here

I’ve taken you by the hand

For you must come to my dance”

In another scene, Death receives the following response from a peasant:

“Ich habe gehabt [vil arbeit gross]

Der sweis mir du[rch die haut floss]

Noch wolde ich ger[n dem tod empfliehen]

Zo habe ich des glu[cks nit hie]“

I had to work very much and very hard

The sweat was running down my skin

I’d like to escape death nontheless

But here I won’t have any luck”

The Danse Macabre has also served as an inspiration for subsequent generations. The 19th century composer Camille Saint-Saëns composed an orchestral piece titled Danse Macabre, complete with the orchestra mimicking the sound of rattling bones.


Franz Liszt transcribed this same piece for piano solo. In addition, he composed a series of variations for solo piano and orchestra on the Gregorian plainchant melody Dies Irae, which he titled Totentanz.

Other composers that have composed Dances of Death are Benjamin Britten, Modest Mussorgsky, Dmitri Shostakovich, Arnold Schoenberg and Viktor Ullman.


At J&O Fabrics, some of our customers’ favorite fabrics are those that depict skulls, living skeletons and other similarly macabre themes. What is the attraction that so many feel towards these ghoulish quilting fabrics? See for yourself.


Bandana Skull and Crossbones: Red Bandana Skulls and Crossbones: Red


Catacomb Skulls: Black Catacomb Skulls: Black


Danse Macabre Skulls: Black Danse Macabre Skulls: Black


Paseo de los muertos: Red Paseo de los muertos: Red


Skulls Infinity: Red/Black Skulls Infinity: Red/Black


The Rose Tattoo Fabric: Tea Dye The Rose Tattoo Fabric: Tea Dye


With our selection of skull and skeleton fabrics you will be able to perform your own danse macabre while adding a morbid flair to your fabric projects.

Liberate your fabric projects from the mundane with all of the exciting novelty quilting fabrics found at J&O.;

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