Rivers of Life or Faiths of Man in All Lands: A Chart of All Religions in History and their Symbolic Continuities, Circa 1900

By Joanna Ebenstein, Founder and Creative Director of Morbid Anatomy

While in Amsterdam last week for our anatomy weekend with the Museum Vrolik, I had the good fortune to visit the wonderful Ritman Library. This incredible space housed many very, very wonderful things, but the 6 foot tall chart you see above, which traces all world religions and their symbolic continuities, was one of my favorites. I could not find a date, but the dates seem to end in the late 19th century, so it was probably published around then.

It is hard to do justice to this dizzyingly ambitious undertaking in a jpg; You can see a much larger and easy to study version by clicking here. I highly recommend taking some time pore over this incredible artifact in detail. I have included a few of my favorites details below. Hope you enjoy!


Joanna Ebenstein is a Brooklyn-based writer, curator, photographer and graphic designer. She is the creator of the Morbid Anatomy blog, library and event series, and was cofounder and creative director of the recently shuttered Morbid Anatomy Museum in Brooklyn. Her books include Death: A Graveside Companion, The Anatomical Venus and The Morbid Anatomy Anthology (with Colin Dickey). Her work explores the intersections of art and medicine, death and culture, and the objective and subjective.

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