In this case, the extraordinarily bejewelled, macabre relics of saints.
When I first saw these skeletons, photographed by Paul Koudounaris, I thought they were plastic bones, specially styled to advertise the gems in a magazine. Or maybe they were photographs for a set on a film. But no, they are historical artifacts that were hidden for over a century in various religious institutions until the photographer gained unprecedented access to photograph them for a book called Heavenly Bodies.
1578, Rome. The discovery of a network of subterranean tombs believed to contain the remains of hundreds of early Christian martyrs. Several of these supposed saints were removed and sent to catholic churches all over Europe to replace holy relics that had been destroyed during the Protestant Reformation. Once in situ, the bones were painstakingly reassembled and dressed in opulent costumes, wigs, jewels and armour and posed in shrines to remind the faithful of the rich treasures that would be theirs in heaven.