SYMBOLS ON GRAVESTONES AND THEIR INTERPRETATIONS

Collection from Barbara Rotundo, Laurel Gabel, Francis Duval
Found at http://millennium.fortunecity.com/donald/547/symbols.txt
 
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's marker
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 AND 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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