Cufflinks - Skull & Crossbones
SKULL & CROSSBONES:
The skull and crossbones motif was used by many American college fraternities, sororities and secret societies founded in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The most well-known example of this usage is the Skull and Bones society, a secret society at Yale University which derives its very name from the symbol.
Other well-known college fraternal organizations which use the skull and bones in some capacity in their public symbols include, but are not limited to: Delta Sigma Pi, Kappa Sigma, Sigma Phi Epsilon, Phi Kappa Sigma, Tau Kappa Epsilon, Chi Psi and Zeta Beta Tau Fraternities and Sigma Sigma Sigma, Chi Omega, and Kappa Delta Sororities.
Other fraternal groups also use the skull and crossbones in their symbolism or in their secret fraternal rituals. These groups include the Knights of Columbus as well as the Knights Templar degree of Freemasonry.
In fraternal usage, the skull and crossbones – along with full skeletons and the skull alone – are a very common motif due to their common association with death. The significance of these symbols varies from group to group.
For some, they are a symbolic reminder of mortality. For others, the symbol has a religious reference (as with the Masonic Knights Templar, for which the skull and bones symbolize Golgotha, the place of Jesus' crucifixion).
Another common fraternal use is one of warning wherein the skull and crossbones symbolize a dire warning against betraying the group's secrets and/or failing to keep one's oath.