Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Cemetery Symbolism: The Lamb

Victorian cemetery art incorporated elaborate symbolism to convey the hopes and sorrows of those left behind.

The Lamb: Symbolizing innocence and gentleness. The death of a child.

Note the highly stylized and ornate artwork. The statuette is recessed in an otherwise normal stone. I've now seen two separate examples of intricate patterns available in this time period for children. Each could be called over-decorated and must have been quite expensive. Yet, I can understand their appeal. Anything to give comfort to a child left alone.

"She is not dead, but sleepeth."

Anna Clara M
Daughter of
John S & Mary D
August 27, 1861
11 years 9 months
20 days

(St. Peters United Church of Christ, West Pikeland Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania)


Kara Alison said...

Jason, I'm going to Cuba in a few weeks and we're going to be near a large cemetary in Havana. When I realized that, I knew I had to go and take some pictures for you. Any pointers?

jane said...

So sad...

mysfit said...

- and comfort for those who lost the child...

Anonymous said...

Kara, my only pointers would be the following. 1) Be aware of the background. Sometimes a careful angle can capture a great deal more impact because of the background. You may have to get low to the ground to accomplish these angles. 2) Be careful with the exposure. Often the stone is bright and the background darker. Since the stone is the point of focus, I will use the stone as the point of light metering decisions. Of course, you can fix most mistakes with software. 3) Straight on, perfectly framed pictures of headstones can be boring. Mix it up a little. Look forward to seeing what you capture!!

Jane, indeed.

Mysfit, yes. It must be a terrible adjustment after watching over the child night and day.

Robin Caroll said...

I love it! Simply beautiful!

beadinggalinMS said...

"She is not dead, but sleepeth."

very moving words!

Sandra Ruttan said...

It is amazing how much emotion there is in a tombstone and a few words.

And you do such a beautiful job of bringing that out. Thank you Jason.

Terri said...

It's tragic... and comforting.

Melissa Marsh said...

Very nice, Jason. I couldn't help but look at the date. While the country was just beginning the Civil War, they were going through the worst torment of all.

Kelly Parra said...

Sad...and strange the lamb appears dead. Very informative, Jason!

Toni Anderson said...

I love graveyards, but nothing is more sad than seeing a stone for a child.

You'd love the UK for graveyards, especially Scotland. This spring I want to visit the St Boniface graveyard and find Louis Reil's headstone.

Thanks for popping over :)

Jeff said...

I can think of only two words for this one, jason. Beautiful and sad.

Anonymous said...

Robin, so many poignant images in this cemetery. Stay tuned.

BeadingalinMS, I've seen that sentiment on many stones of the Victorian period. I suppose it refers to the notion of judgment day when the dead will rise again.

Sandra, that is a high compliment. I greatly appreciate it!

Terri, these artists could really convey the sweetness of innocence.

Melissa, yes, this cemetery is filled with the result of those periods of turmoil. Revolutionary War dead. Civil War dead. And the grim realities of disease. You'll be seeing examples in the coming weeks.

Kelly, despite being somewhat protected, the lamb has been moderately worn away. I'm sure it originally appeared to be resting/sleeping.

Toni, the venerable cemeteries of Europe must be awe-inspiring. Perhaps I'll be able to visit them one day. Thanks for stopping over! I'll definitely be back on your blog again.

Jeff, no other words are necessary. They capture it all.

Dana Y. T. Lin said...

Ugh. I totally feel the parent's pain. How sad and tragic for them, but comforting to know how much she was loved.

Anonymous said...

Dana, we remember her now, and perhaps that's a comfort.

Michele said...

When you have kids, things affect you differently. Head stones like that put their own stone of sorrow in my throat.

Anonymous said...

Michele, I know what you mean. I have two young children myself. Sometimes I dare myself to imagine. Then stop.

epgraves said...

I am a cemetery preservationist (What my blog is about)and I have enjoyed seeing that stone. Lamb stones are very common in Ga. but very rarely ornate. I can only think of one that I have seen outside of the victorian cemetery here (Oakland). The lamb I speak of was only because of it was much larger than the norm, and unlike many locally, it still had it's head. The stone that you posted seems to offer protection to the lamb, nice.

Anonymous said...

Epgraves, very nice to have you!! I hope you have a moment sometime to peruse my past cemetery posts.

Your site is very intriguing. I'll definitely be stopping by.

epgraves said...

Thanks, I have been reading them.
Going about it slowly as to enjoy them.