Thursday, March 31, 2011

SYMBOLS ON GRAVESTONES AND THEIR INTERPRETATIONS

 

http://www.familyhistory101.com/encyclopedia/tomb.html

SYMBOLS ON GRAVESTONES AND THEIR INTERPRETATIONS

Animals | Figures | Latin Phrases | Objects | Trees & Plants

- ANIMALS -

ANT : Christian industry

BATS (rare): the underworld

BEE : resurrection. risen Christ; chastity

BIRDS : souls

BIRDS FLYING : flight of the soul back to God

BUTTERFLY : resurrection; Christian metamorphosis

CHRYSALIS : Christian metamorphosis; resurrection

COCK : vigilance; St. Peter

DOVE DESCENDING : holy ghost

DOVE : peace; innocence; purity (7 doves-holy spirit); messenger of God carrying soul to heaven

EAGLE: fierceness; ascension: the heavenly conveyor, national emblem of the United States: the military professional, Civil War casualties

EAGLE WINGED: St. John, the Evangelist

EGG: regeneration

FISH: Christ; plentifulness

FOX: cruelty; cunning

FROG: resurrection

HART (deer): the faithful thirsting for God

LAMB: Christ; Redeemer; meekness: sacrifice; child; innocence; most common 19th century child'smarker

LAMB WITH BANNER: resurrection

LION: strength; courage; royalty; power; guardian; fallen hero

LION WINGED: St. Mark the Evangelist

OX WINGED: St. Luke the Evangelist

PEACOCK: immortality; eternity; resurrection; incorruptibility of the flesh

PELICAN: feeds young with own blood; redemption through Christ

PHOENIX: immortality; baptism

RAM: sacrifice

ROOSTER: the awakening from the fall from grace; repentance

SHEEP & GOATS: Christians and non-believers

SERPENT: symbol of death

SNAKE: sin; Satan; fall of man

SNAKE HOOPED: eternity

SNAKE WITH TAIL IN MOUTH: eternity; unity

SPHINX: lion represents strength and protection; used to guard entrances

SQUIRREL: Christian forethought; spiritual striving

STAG: same as hart

FIGURES -

ANGEL: messenger between God & man; guide

ANGEL FLYING: rebirth; guardian angel

ANGEL TRUMPETING: call to the resurrection

ANGEL WEEPING: grief

BREASTS: the Divine, nourishing fluid of the soul (17th century); the church; the ministry; the nourishment of the soul

CHILD SLEEPING: Victorian death motif

DEATH'S HEAD WINGED: mortality

EFFIGES: the soul

EFFIGES CROWNED: personal reward of righteousness

EFFIGES WINGED: the flight of the soul

FATHER TIME: mortality, the grim reaper

FOUR EVANGELISTS: Matthew, winged man; Mark, winged lion; Luke, winged ox; John, winged eagle

HAND OF GOD: pointing downward-mortality, sudden death

HAND OF GOD: pointing upward-the reward of the righteous; confirmation of life after death

HANDS: devotion, prayer

HANDSHAKES: farewell to earthly existence

HANDS CLASPED: in death as in life, the devotion of these two is not destroyed

IMPS: figures, some winged, some not, doing funeral related tasks; mortality

MAN, WINGED: St. Matthew the Evangelist

TRUMPETERS: heralds of the resurrection

WOMAN WEEPING: mourning; recalls myth of Niobe, whom the gods turned to stone as she wept for her slain children

LATIN PHRASES -

FUGIT HORA: "hours are fleeting", "time flies"

IHS: monogram or symbol representing the Greek contraction of "Jesus": sometimes regarded as an abbreviation of the Latin phrase meaning "Jesus, Savior of Men"

INRI: often seen on a banner of latin cross: "Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum". Latin for Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews (John 12: 19-22)

MEMENTO MORI: "remember death"

TEMPUS ERAT: "time is gone"; "time has run out"

XP: Chi Rho-first two Greek letters of the word "Christ"

OBJECTS -

ALPHA & OMEGA: first and last letters of the Greek alphabet symbolizing the beginning & end of all things, see Revelation 22:13

ANCHOR: hope, life eternal; may signify seafaring profession

ANVIL: martyrdom

ARCH: triumph, victory in death

ARK: church; salvation

ARK OF NOAH (rare): refuge, salvation

ARMOR: protection from evil

ARROW: martyrdom, mortality

ARROW QUIVER: warlike

BANNER: victory; triumph

BATTLE AXE: martyrdom

BELLS: call to worship

BIBLES: resurrection through the scripture; the clergy

BOOK: Bible; wisdom

BOOKS STACKED: knowledge

BRANCH SEVERED: mortality

BUGLES: resurrection; the military profession

CANDLE BEING SNUFFED: time, mortality

CANDLE FLAME: life

CANDLESTICK: Christ; devotion

CELTIC CROSS: circle on it symbolizes eternity

CIRCLE: eternity; or earth

CLOCK (rare): passage of time, mortality

CLOUDS: the divine abode

COATS OF ARMS AND CRESTS: lineage, status

COFFINS: mortality

COLUMN BROKEN: sorrow; broken life

COLUMNS WITH DOORS: heavenly entrance

CRESCENT MOON: Virgin

CROSS: salvation

CROSS WITH RAYS OF RISING SUN: glory

CROSS WITH WINDING SHEET: descent from cross

CROWN: reward of faithful, victory, triumph, glory; righteousness; resurrection

CROWN ON CROSS: sovereignty of Christ

CROZIER: bishop

CUP: Eucharist

DARTS: mortality, dart of death

DRAPERY OVER ANYTHING: sorrow; mourning

FIELD ARTILLERY (rare): the military profession

FINGER: pointing to heaven

FLAME: eternity

FLEUR-DE-LIS: Virgin; Trinity

FLYFOT: swastika

GARLAND: victory

PORTALS: passageways to the eternal journey

PORTRAITS: stylized likenesses of the deceased

PYRAMID: symbolic of death

ROCK: steadfastness of Christ; stability

ROSARY: devotion to Mary

SCALES: weighing of souls; justice

SCROLL: the law; Scriptures

SCYTHE: time, the divine harvest

SHELL: pilgrimage: baptism of Christ

SHELL, SCALLOP: pilgrim; pilgrim's journey; resurrection

SHIP: the Church

SHIPS' PROFILES: the seafaring profession

SHRINE: wisdom; knowledge

SKELETONS: mortality, Death

SKULL: death; sin

SKULL, WINGED: flight of the soul from mortal man

SKULLS AND CROSSBONES: mortality

STAR: birth-life; Christ

STAR, FIVE POINTED: Star of Bethlehem; star of Jacob; divine guidance and protection

STAR, SIX POINTER: the Father, Creation, heavenly wisdom

SUN: God or Son

SUN, SETTING: death

SUN, RISING: resurrection; renewed life

SUNS, MOONS AND STARS: the reward of the resurrection

SWORD: martyrdom; courage; warfare

SWORDS, CROSSED: high ranking military person

THREE: three points, three leaves, three of any thing-Trinity

TOMBS: mortality

TORCH: zeal; enlightenment

TORCH, INVERTED: extinction of life; death; mourning

TORCH, UPRIGHT: immortality, liberty, upright life, the scholastic world, the betrayal of Christ

TRUMPET: day of judgment; resurrection

URN: soul; mortality

URN, DRAPED: death, sorrow

WINGED WHEEL: holy spirit

YOKE: burden-bearing; service; patience

 

TREES & PLANTS -

ALMOND: favor from God; Virgin birth

APPLE: sin; Eve

BELLFLOWER: gratitude

BOUQUETS: condolences, grief

BUDS: renewal of life

CEDAR: strong faith; length of days; success

CYPRUS: sorrow; death; eternal life, Roman symbol for mourning

EASTER LILY: modern flower symbolic of resurrection

EVERGREENS: immortality

FLOWER: brevity of earthly existence, sorrow; certain flowers may symbolize emotions, particular aspirations, attitudes, both religious and secular

FLOWER, BROKEN: premature death

FRUIT: eternal plenty

FRUIT AND VINE: Jesus Christ; the Christian church

GOURDS: the coming to be and passing away of all earthly matters

IVY: abiding memory, friendship, fidelity

LAUREL: victory, triumph, glory

LILY, LILIES: resurrection, purity

LOTUS: Egyptian water lily and ornament

OAK: supernatural power and strength; eternity

OLIVE: peace; healing faith

PALM: spiritual victory over death; martyrdom; reward of the righteous; peace; a plant whose leaves resemble a hand

PINEAPPLE: hospitality

POMEGRANATE: immortality; resurrection; unity; nourishment of the soul

POPPY: symbolic of sleep, therefore, death

ROSES: condolonce, sorrow; the brevity of earthly existence; of English descent-the Tudor rose

SHEAVES OF WHEAT: time, the divine harvest

STRAWBERRY: righteousness; humility

THISTLE: of Scottish descent; the inevitability of death, remembrance

TREE: faith; life; the Tree of Life

TREE, FELLED: mortality

TREE TRUNK, BROKEN: premature death

VINE: Christian church; Christ; wine, the symbolic blood of Jesus; the sacraments

WHEAT SHEAVES: the divine harvest

WILLOW, WEEPING: grief; death (carried at Masonic funerals); earthly sorrow, the symbolic tree of human sadness, Nature's lament

WREATH: victory in death, indestructible crown worn by triumphant Christian; eternity

WREATH WORN BY SKULL: victory of death over life

YEW: immortality

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