The Dance of Death in Tallinn, Part 1

Tallinn's dance of death, part 1
Tallinn's dance of death, part 1.
The dance of death in Chaise-Dieu, by Rosenfeld, 1968.
Chaise-Dieu, the start of the dance
The dance of death in Chaise-Dieu, by Achille Jubinal, 1841.
Ceci n'est pas une bagpipe.
Chaise-Dieu, the start of the dance

The dance of death in Tallinn starts with a preacher admonishing the congregation. It might very well have been the same way in Lübeck. At least the printed books based on Lübeck's dance of death all start in this way.

In contrast to Lübeck, Death plays a bagpipe, either to make the scene more gruesome, or because bagpipes are known to be able to wake the dead. (8=

There is a certain similarity between the start of the dance in Tallinn and the even older dance of death in Chaise-Dieu in Auvergne, France. This was pointed out as early as 1897 by Alexander Goette (Holbeins Totentanz und seine Vorbilder, p. 38). Hellmut Rosenfeld produced the drawing to the left for his book from 1968 (Der mittelalterliche Totentanz, picture 21), where Death also plays the bagpipe.

The problem with this interesting theory is that Rosenfeld's drawing deviates markedly from the drawing that he has copied. Achille Jubinal published Explication de la Danse des Morts de la Chaise-Dieu in 1841, and had personally seen this part of the mural before it perished. The sitting person is not a corpse, and probably isn't holding a bagpipe. One wonders why Rosenfeld had to copy Jubinal's drawing by hand. Hadn't the photocopier been invented back in 1968?

The text from the painting has been transcribed and translated under the photos of the painting from Lübeck.


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