Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Cemetery Symbolism: Tree Trunk


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

The Tree Trunk: Not common. The cut trunk symbolizes the brevity of life, mortality. When cut to a short stump, it can indicate a life cut short. The tall example here evokes the grand memory of the tree--the core strength of faith. When used in a multiple grave such as this one, each cut branch may symbolize a person buried beneath.

Selection of Inscriptions:
Mary Ann Anderson
Died July 7, 1888
Aged 69 Years 3 MO
and 21 Days

REMEMBER FRIENDS AS YOU PASS BY
AS YOU ARE NOW SO ONCE WAS I
AS I AM NOW SO YOU MUST BE
PREPARE FOR DEATH AND FOLLOW ME



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

22 comments:

Mary Louisa said...

Fascinating. I have never seen such a thing! Thanks, as ever, for posting your wonderful photos and commentary.

Dana Y. T. Lin said...

Wow. I've never seen a tombstone like this before. Amazing.

Bernita said...

Most unusual.

jane said...

I've never seen a tree trunk as a tombstone either - thank you for sharing.

Erik Ivan James said...

Yes Sir. Thank you for sharing something so unique.

"REMEMBER FRIENDS AS YOU PASS BY
AS YOU ARE NOW............."

Adds another meaning to 'perspective'---dosen't it?

beadinggalinMS said...

That was fascinating. I haven't seen one like this one.

beadinggalinMS said...

I counted 8 cut branches so it is possible she has 8 people buried beneath her? That is amazing.

Melissa Marsh said...

Interesting about the tree stump. I had never heard that before.

Shesawriter said...

That is a weird looking stone. Never seen one like it.

Tanya

jason evans said...

Mary Louisa, it is very distinctive!

Dana, I had to capture it if nothing more than for its oddity.

Bernita, I don't think I would've chosen it.

Jane, it looked like it was assembled in pieces.

Erik, I may be morbid, but I think about that sentiment often. What would happen if my life was over today? Would I feel that I had accomplished enough?

BeadinggalinMS, in retrospect, I should've checked all of the inscriptions to count the number buried there. I'm not sure this family chose the cut branch meaning, but it's possible. Often larger monuments mark a number of graves.

Melissa, I don't think there are many examples.

Tanya, I can understanding wanting to use a tree as a motif, but the cut log just looks too stark.

Cate said...

I immediately thought: oh, fascinating. Then, I read all of your comments, which basically said: oh, fascinating. I wish I could come up with something original, but wow . . . that was fascinating!

The incription is very grounded in realism. We all live and then we die. It's inevitable.

Thanks for sharing this!

LiVEwiRe said...

I have never seen one like that, even in my fascination with the various stones! That is excellent; now I'll be determined to find one!

Kelly Parra said...

(this is for your flash post) Great flash, Jason! Sorry, I'm unable to post at Gutters so I'm posting here. =D

jason evans said...

Cate, thanks for commenting anyway! Yes, the inscription is an unpleasant reminder, but an important one nonetheless.

Lirewire, let me know if you do! I wonder how many of them there are.

Kelly, I saw your posts on Anne's blog about your difficulty posting. Thanks for dropping the note here! That piece is probably the fastest I've done, but that's the point of "flash" I guess.

Terri said...

Pretty stone, eerie words.

Oh and if I can just add something about the final in your 'Sweet Air' story... don't ever apologise for posting a story. Even if it's not what we expect, I, for one, am only too happy to enjoy what you write.

Jeff said...

I can't say I have ever seen a monument like this before, either. Nice commentary, Jason. :)

mermaid said...

Hey, is that your interpretation of the tree trunk? I love trees, and couldn’t have explained its symbolism to life any better than you have.

jason evans said...

Terri, I really appreciate that. Thanks for saying so. :)

Jeff, thanks! That stone really stands out.

Mermaid, for these symbolism posts, I do internet research first, then usually add my own touches to the description. Yes, trees are amazing creatures.

Michele said...

That surely is a "stop and smell the roses" moment. You always amaze me with your ability to find the most poignant and touching headstones to share with us.

Thank you.

jason evans said...

Michele, your appreciation makes it all worthwhile. Thanks!

Kira said...

That's fascinating about the tree trunks.

Around here, they're all "Woodsmen of the World" markers, a fraternal club that I'd never heard of outside of Texas.

jason evans said...

Kira, I'll have to look up that group! I didn't see any indications like that on this stone, but my first thought was, did they own a logging business or something? It is just so odd looking.