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Gravestone Iconography

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  • 1. Gravestone Iconography in Appalachia Sarah Deel
  • 2. Gravestone History
    • Many gravestones found in cemeteries exhibit valuable works of religious art that in many cases were crafted by people of the surrounding region.
    • Cemeteries are outdoor cultural museums that reflect the transcendent aspirations of the societies that create them.
  • 3. History Cont.
    • Gravestones that were created by local stone carvers are more useful to the show the religious values of a given culture than are the mass-marketed generic grave markers currently popular throughout the United States.
  • 4. History Cont.
    • In the nineteenth-century, families might call upon local stone carvers to capture in their art some common sacred concept.
    • Pointing index fingers, the nearly ubiquitous funerary urns and willow trees, hourglasses and stars were designed to convey some important message about the family or society's understanding of life, death, the profane, and the sacred.
  • 5. Gravestones
    • The earliest markers erected in the Appalachian region of North America were generally simple and unrefined. The inscriptions on the earliest stones, if they had any inscriptions at all, have in many instances eroded away entirely
  • 6. Symbols
    • Funerary Urn- The urn was a well-understood symbol of death or the soul's mortality.
  • 7. Symbols Cont.
    • Weeping Willow- represented the grief and sorrow experienced by the survivors of the departed.
  • 8. Symbols Cont.
    • The presence of a dove- almost always indicated that the deceased was an infant or young child. It represents the Spirit of God who descends and plucks the young life.
  • 9.
    • Appalachian gravestones are, in many respects, works of art.
  • 10. Other Gravestones