Friday, 2 December 2011

Funerary Symbolism

There are many differing explanations and interpretations about the carvings,
ornamentation and symbols on gravestones.

Symbolism - albeit perhaps not always representing the ‘text-book’ meaning
continues to be used although perhaps simply because it is aesthetically pleasing.

The following list of Funerary Symbols, interspersed with photographs
illustrate the creativity of the stonemason over the years, turning and adapting
basic design elements into ‘works of art’.

Angel (Flying or Trumpeting) – Resurrection/Re-birth

Angel (Weeping) – Grief/ mourning

Anvil - Martyrdom.
Arch - Triumph, Victory in/over Death.
Arrow - Mortality.
Banner - Victory, Triumph.
Bells - Call to Worship.
Bird – Eternal Life
Bird (Flying) – Resurrection
Bones (Crossed) – Mortality

Books (Open) – Holy Book/The Bible

Book (Closed) – Holy Book/The Bible. A Life Completed/The Story Told.
Bouquets/Flowers – Condolences, Grief and Sorrow
Broken Ring/Circle – Broken Family Circle
Butterfly – Short Life/Early Death
Cherub (or Winged Soul) – Angelic

Clock - Mortality
Coffin – Mortality
Columns or Doors – Entrance to Heaven
Column (Broken) – Life Cut Short/Loss of Head of Family
Corn – Old Age
Cross – Faith/Salvation/Resurrection
Cross with Sun Rays - Glory.
Cross with Winding Sheet - Descent from the Cross.
Crown – Glory, Victory
Cup or Chalice – The Sacraments/Holy Communion
Dove – Peace/Purity
Dove – Flying (usually upside down) with Olive Branch – Offerance of Resurrection

Drapes/Drapery – Sorrow/Mourning

Flame - Eternity
Flowers – Frailty/Fragility of Life/Beauty
Fruit – Eternal Plenty
Garland or Wreath - Victory
God/Eye of God - Omnipresence of God
God/Eye of God – (In Triangle) The Holy Trinity
Grim Reaper – Death Personified
Hands (Index Finger pointing upwards) – Pathway to Heaven

Hands (Clasped) – Unity/Affection. (Or in Prayer)

Heart - Love
Hourglass - Passage of Time, Shortness of Life
Hourglass  (Flying) – Speed of Passing Time

IHC – Greek word for Jesus (IHCOYC)
IHS – Latin – Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews (Iesus Nazarenus Rex Ludaeorum)
Ivy - Attachment, Affection, Friendship, Eternal Life
Lamb - Innocence

Laurel Wreath - Victory in Death
Lily of the Valley – Innocence/Purity/Renewal
Morning Glory – Resurrection/Beginning of Life
Moon - Resurrection
Oak (Leaves or Acorns) – Strength/Endurance/Virtue
Palm Branch – Victory/Rejoicing
Pelican - Sacrifice
Poppy – Sleep/Eternal Sleep
Scales – Justice/Weighing of Souls
Seashell – Resurrection/Eternal Life
Scythe - Divine Harvest/Death
Ship – Seafaring
Skeleton – Mortality/Death.
Skull – Mortality/Death

Skull (Winged) - Flight of the Soul
Square & Compasses – Masonic Connection

Thistle – Remembrance/Scottish Connection
Torch – Life/Truth
Torch (Inverted) –Extinction of Life
Tree – Life/Life Everlasting
Urn  (With or Without Drapes/Drapery) - Mourning

Vessel with Flame - Eternal Spirit
Willow (Or Weeping Willow) -  Grief/Sorrow/Mourning

The following ...... Sorrow

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