Decorations on Monumental Inscriptions

These are some motifs found on gravestones with some of the commonly held interpretations of their symbolism.

Angel, Flying – Rebirth; Resurrection

Angel, Trumpeting – Resurrection

Angel, Weeping – Grief & Mourning

– Victory in Death

– Mortatlity

Bird – Eternal Life

Bird, Flying – Resurrection

Book – Representation of a holy book; i.e. the Bible

Breasts (Gourds, Pomegranates) – Nourishment of the soul; the Church

Columns and Doors – Heavenly entrance

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

Garland or Wreath
– Victory in Death

Grim Reaper – Death personified

Hand, Pointing Up – Pathway to Heaven; Heavenly Reward

Hands, Clasped – The Goodbyes said at Death

Heart – Love; Love of God; Abode of the Soul; Mortality

Hourglass – Passing of Time

Lamb – Innocence

Lion – Courage; The Lion of Judah

Pall – Mortality

Pick – Death; Mortality

Rod or Staff – Comfort for the bereaved

Rooster – Awakening; Resurrection

Scythe – Death; The Divine Harvest

Seashell – Resurrection; Life Everlasting; Life’s Pilgrimage

Skull – Mortality

Skull/Crossed Bones – Death

Skeleton – Life’s brevity

Snake (Tail in Mouth) – Everlasting life in Heaven

Spade – Mortality; Death

Sun Rising – Renewed Life

Sun Shining – Life Everlasting

Sun Setting – Death

– Scottish Descent

Tree – Life

Tree Sprouting – Life Everlasting

Severed Branch – Mortality

Tree Stump – Life Interrupted

Tree Trunk – Brevity of Life

Tree Trunk Leaning – Short Interrupted Life

Urn – Immortality (Ancient Egyption belief that life would be restored

in the future through the vital organs placed in the urn.)

Weeping Willow Tree – Mourning; Grief; Nature’s Lament

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

Australian Family Tree Connections January 1997, who got it from “The Olive Tree Genealogy” Lorine McGinnis SCHULZE, Author and webmaster

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