Carvings and symbols: Part IV


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Names and dates are important facts for any researcher but on a headstone, the variety of carvings and symbols can build out a more complete story.

Double-headed eagles…

32 Degree Mason, Lakeview Cemetery

32 Degree Mason, Lakeview Cemetery

Knights in weathered armor…

Knights of Pythias, Newcastle Coal Miners' Cemetery

Knights of Pythias, Newcastle Coal Miners' Cemetery

…olive branches and oak leaves, scallops and axes. All of these are mysterious symbols to visitors unfamiliar with the metaphors.

During the late 1800s, the Pacific Northwest offered a unique opportunity to start fresh in one of the last frontiers. Civil War veterans, Scandinavian fishermen and loggers, Welsh miners, Japanese farmers and others, placed their bets and came west.

Newcastle Coal Miners' Cemetery

Newcastle Coal Miners' Cemetery

Yet while this was their chance to start over for something better, it did not mean the traditions or familiar language of one’s homeland were forgotten.

Auburn Pioneer Cemetery

Auburn Pioneer Cemetery

Fraternal organizations such as the Masons, Modern Woodmen of America…

Lakeview Cemetery

Lakeview Cemetery

…Odd Fellows, Daughters of Rebekah, Knights of Pythias or Salvation Army, also helped build a sense of a comfort and solidarity in isolated communities located one or two traveling days from Seattle.

York Rite Masons, Woodinville Mead Memorial

York Rite Masons, Woodinville Mead Memorial

Joining became such an integral factor that many people were members of more than one group. For example, the photo below left shows a Mason & Odd Fellow member…

Tolt Cemetery

Tolt Cemetery

..while Edna Ewing belonged to both the Daughters of Rebekah and the Order of the Eastern Star.

Crown Hill Cemetery

Crown Hill Cemetery

Those who didn’t join local organizations could still utilize other carvings to tell their life story, such as wheat sheaves to recognize a long and fruitful life…

Fall City Cemetery

Fall City Cemetery

 …a jizo statue to represent a child’s untimely death.

Auburn Pioneer Cemetery

Auburn Pioneer Cemetery

 …or oak leaves and acorns symbolizing strength in a time of adversity. Note that the two acorns can also represent one of two meanings: the natural and supernatural world or male sexuality.

Saar Pioneer Cemetery

Saar Pioneer Cemetery

And sometimes, the visitor finds a carving requires no interpretation at all.

Saar Pioneer Cemetery

Saar Pioneer Cemetery

 
Coming up next: Weathering, vandalism & maintenance

 

Reference Source:

Keister. Stories in Stone: A Field Guide to Cemetery Symbolism & Iconography

 

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1 Comment

Filed under Commentary, Restoration, Symbols

One response to “Carvings and symbols: Part IV

  1. Pingback: The end of the line « Beyond The Ghosts…A Cemetery Blog

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