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Monday, September 9, 2013

GRAVESTONE SYMBOLISM

Grave Markers, mostly made of stone such as marble, granite, and on early graves, slate.  Generally the type of stone used was abundant in the region from which that person came.  Gravestones are memorials which often depict a symbol representing the deceased, where "funerary art" is often used to commemorate that persons life.  The central focus of gravestones are for mourning and remembrance.

Great links, for more information:

http://headboardsofstone.blogspot.com/2010/01/cemetery-headstone-symbols.html
http://iagenweb.org/ringgold/cemeteries/gravestonesymbols.html
http://www.vintageviews.org/vv-tl/pages/Cem_Symbolism.htm


GRAVESTONE SYMBOLISM

Religious:

Angels - Angels mean spirituality and they guard the tomb.

Bible - A single Holy Bible is often found on Christian stones.

Holy Books (2) - on Mormon headstones indicates the Bible and the Book of Mormon.

Holy Books (3) - on Mormon Headstones, these indicate The Scripture of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints - the Bible, Book of Mormon, and Doctrine & Covenants.

Chalice - Usually used to represent the Sacraments.

Crescent - The deceased was probably a Muslim.

Crown - The soul's achievement and the Glory of life after death.

Cross - The Cross is an emblem of faith. There are many different types of crosses and each may mean something different.

Heart (Sacred) - Usually found in Catholic cemeteries, this heart refers to the suffering of Christ for our sins.

Menorah - An emblem of Judaism

Star of David or Mogen David - Recognized as the international symbol of Judaism.


Mortality:

Arrow - Mortality

Broken Column - This image represents the decay. It usually represents the loss of the Family head.

Candle being Snuffed - Loss of life.

Coffin - Mortality.

Figure with Dart - Mortality

Grim Reaper - Death personified.

Hourglass - Time has run out.

Scythe - An instrument of the harvest, death cuts us down.

Skull and or Skull/ Crossed Bones - Death.

Spade or Crossed Spade and Shovel - Death


Trade and Occupation: (emblems that MIGHT indicate a person's occupation in life)

Barber Bowl (for bleeding) & Razor.

Butcher - An axe, steel knife and cleaver.

Farmer: - Coulter (type of hoe), flail (threshing implement), swingletree (rod for beating flax), stalk of corn.

Gardener - Rake & Spade.

Mason - Wedge & Level

Mariner: - Anchor, Sextant & Cross Staff.

Merchant - Scales, some type of sign.

Minister - Bible

Shoemaker - Leather cutter's Knife, Nippers, Sole cutter & Awl

Smith - Crown, Hammer & Anvil

Teacher - Open Book.

Weaver - Loom, Shuttle & Stretchers.

Wright - A worker skilled in the manufacture especially of wooden objects --usually used in combination , such as a shipwright or wheelwright - Compasses


Resurrection, Eternal Life, Immortality:

Angel - Flying or Trumpeting - Rebirth; Resurrection.

Bird or Bird Flying - Eternal life, Resurrection.

Cross - The Cross means resurrection to many Christians.

Dove - Flying - Resurrection.

Flame, Light, Lamp or Torch - Immortality of the Spirit, Resurrection.

Garland or Wreath - Symbol of saintliness and glory, Victory in death.

Horns - The Resurrection

Ivy - Immortality

Rooster - Awakening; Resurrection.

Star - Death could not overpower the Light of the Spirit which still shines in the darkness.

Sun - A symbol of light and warmth, renewed life and life everlasting.

Trumpeters - Harbingers of the Resurrection

Urn - Immortality (The storing of the vital organs was of extreme importance to the ancient Egyptians who believed that life would be restored through the vital organs placed in the urn).

Animals:

Birds - Eternal life or resurrection.

Butterfly - Short-life.

Dog - Implies a good master worthy of love.

Dove - Seen in both Christian and Jewish cemeteries, the dove means innocence and/ or peace.

Lamb - Usually marks the grave of a child and means Innocence.

Lion - The Lion's eternal watch guards the tomb and stands for Courage.

Rooster - Awakening; Resurrection.


Plants:

Fruits - Eternal plenty as in the fruit of life.

Full-Blown Rose - The deceased died in the prime of life

Ivy - Ivy stands for friendship and also immortality.

Laurel - A symbol of worldly accomplishment and heroism.

Lily - The virgins' flower and also the symbol of innocence and purity.

Morning Glory - Signifies the beginning of Life

Oak., Oak Leaves and Acorn - Oak leaves on tombs can stand for power, authority or victory. Often seen on Military tombs.

Palm Branch - Signifies Victory and Rejoicing

Poppy - Eternal Sleep.

Roses - Roses signify completion and the brevity of earthly existence.

Rosemary - Rosemary is for remembrance. Thistles can also stand for remembrance.

Thistle - Deceased was of Scottish descent.

Tree or Trees

    A Tree stands for life.
    A Tree Sprouting stands for life everlasting.
    Tree Trunk stands for the brevity of life.
    Stones shaped liked Tree Stumps usually signify that the deceased was a member of The Woodmen of the World

Weeping Willow Tree - Perpetual Mourning; Grief.

Wheat Strands or Sheaves - The divine harvest.


Miscellaneous:

Broken Ring - The family circle has been severed.

Cherub - Cherubs are angelic and signify innocence.

Crossed Swords - Military person of high rank.

Hands:

    Hands in cemeteries are usually in one of the following four positions; clasping, praying, pointing, and blessing.
    Hand, Pointing Up - Pathway to heaven.
    Hands, Clasped - Farewells or the bond of marriage
    Hands, Praying - Asking God for Eternal life.
    Hands, Blessing - Blessing of those left behind.

Harp - Praise to the God.

Heart - Love. Stylized hearts stand for the affection of the living for the dead. Two joined hearts on a stone mark a marriage,

Rod or Staff - Comfort for the bereaved.

Stars and Stripes Around Eagle - Eternal vigilance and liberty. Often seen on military markers.

Urn with Flame - Undying remembrance

Source:  http://www.angelfire.com/ky2/cemetery/reid.html


Quick List:
    Anchor/Ships - Hope or Seafaring profession
    Angel, Flying- Rebirth; Resurrection.
    Angel, Trumpeting - Resurrection.
    Angel, Weeping - Grief and Mourning.
    Arch - Victory in death.
    Arrow - Mortality.
    Bird - Eternal life.
    Bird, Flying - Resurrection.
    Book-Representation of a holy book: i.e. the Bible.
    Covenants - All of which are scripture to the LDS Church.
    Breasts (Gourds, Pomegranates) - Nourishment of the soul; the church.
    Bouquets/Flowers - Condolences, grief, sorrow
    Broken Column - Loss of Head of Family
    Broken Ring - Family Circle Severed
    Buds/Rosebud - Morning of Life or Renewal of Life
    Bugles - Resurrection and the Military
    Butterfly - Short-lived - Early Death
    Candle being Snuffed - Time, mortality
    Cherub - Angelic
    Coffin, Father Time, Picks/Shovels, Darts - Mortality
    Columns and Doors - Heavenly entrance.
    Corn - Ripe Old Age
    Cross - Emblem of Faith
    Crossed Swords - High-ranking military person
    Crown - Glory of life after death.
    Cup or Chalice - The Sacraments.
    Dove - Purity; Devotion.
    Dove, Flying - Resurrection.
    Drapes - Mourning; Mortality.
    Flame or Light - Life; Resurrection.
    Flower - Fragility of life.
    Flower, Severed Stem - Shortened life.
    Flying Birds - Flight of the Soul
    Fruits - Eternal plenty
    Full-Blown Rose - Prime of Life
    Garland or Wreath - Victory in death.
    Grim Reaper - Death personified.
    Hand, Pointing Up - Pathway to heaven; Heavenly reward.
    Hands, Clapsed - The goodbyes said at death.
    Hand of God Chopping - Sudden Death
    Handshakes - Farewell
    Harp - Praise to the Maker
    Heart - Love; Love of God; Abode of the soul; Mortality.
    Horns - The Resurrection
    Hourglass - Passing of time.
    Hourglass, Flying - Time flies.
    Imps - Mortality
    Ivy - Friendship and Immortality
    Lamb - Innocence.
    Laurel - Fame or Victory
    Lily or Lily of Valley - Emblem of Innocence and Purity
    Lion - Courage; The Lion of Judah.
    Morning Glory - Beginning of Life
    Oak Leaves and Acorn - Maturity, Ripe Old Age
    Open Book/ Bible - Deceased Teacher, Minister, etc.
    Pall - Mortality.
    Palm Branch - Signifies Victory and Rejoicing
    Pick - Death; Mortality.
    Poppy - Sleep
    Portals - Passageway to eternal journey
    Rod or Staff - Comfort for the bereaved.
    Rooster - Awakening; Resurrection.
    Roses - Brevity of earthly existence
    Scythe - Death; The divine harvest.
    Seashell - Resurrection; Life everlasting; Life's pilgrimage.
    Sheaf of Wheat - Ripe for Harvest, Divine Harvest, Time
    Skull - Mortality.
    Skull/ Crossed Bones - Death.
    Skeleton - Life's brevity.
    Snake (Tail in Mouth) - Everlasting life in heaven.
    Spade - Mortality; Death.
    Stars and Stripes Around Eagle - Eternal Vigilance, Liberty
    Sun Rising - Renewed life.
    Sun Shining - Life everlasting.
    Sun Setting - Death.
    Thistle - Scottish descent.
    Thistles - Remembrance
    Tombs - Mortality
    Torch Inverted - Life Extinct
    Tree - Life.
    Tree Sprouting - Life everlasting.
    Severed Branch - Mortality.
    Tree Stump - Life interrupted.
    Tree Stump w/Ivy - Head of Family - Immortality
    Tree Trunk - Brevity of life.
    Tree Trunk Leaning - Short interrupted life.
    Trumpeters - Heralds of the Resurrection
    Urn - Immortality
    Urn with /Wreath or Crepe - Mourning
    Urn with Blaze - Undying Friendship
    Weeping Willow Tree - Mourning; Grief; Nature's lament.
    Willows - Earthly Sorrow
    Winged Face - Effigy of the deceased soul; the soul in flight.
    Winged Skull - Flight of the soul from mortal man.
    Wreath - Victory.
    Wreath on Skull - Victory of death over life.
    Wheat Strands or Sheaves - The divine harvest.

Source: http://www.olivetreegenealogy.com/misc/grave.shtml



Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there; I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on snow,
I am the sun on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning's hush,
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there; I did not die.  - Mary Frye, 1932