Bonfire of the vanities  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Bonfire of the Vanities (Italian: Falò delle vanità) refers to the burning of objects that are deemed to be occasions of sin. The most famous one took place on 7 February 1497, when supporters of the Dominican priest Girolamo Savonarola collected and publicly burned thousands of objects in Florence, Italy, on the Shrove Tuesday festival.

The focus of this destruction was on objects that might tempt one to sin, including vanity items such as mirrors, cosmetics, fine dresses, and even musical instruments. Other targets included immoral books, manuscripts of secular songs, and pictures.

Included were lewd pictures, pagan books, gaming tables, cosmetics, copies of Boccaccio's Decameron, works of Ovid, Plato, Petrarch, Dante and Luigi Pulci.

Such bonfires were not invented by Savonarola, however; they were a common accompaniment to the outdoor sermons of San Bernardino da Siena in the first half of the century.

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