Reflections on Death

Now that warm weather and rain has destroyed the lovely snowfall that had accumulated, it’s more difficult to find things to photograph that aren’t made ugly by it.  So I went walkabout in the city with a friend.  Of course I ended up in one of the large cemeteries.

Reflections on Death

The lighting was difficult, but I think it works.  This is the oldest part of the cemetery with graves that date to early 1800.  Not old by New England standards, but they’re still of slate and bear some simple engraving.  That’s part of what I love about grave sites.  The stone work is so lovely.  Here’s one from the mid-1700s from town about 20 miles away.

Sarah aged 9

The morning light was angled perfectly to really show up the carving.  I love the old-style script with Fs that look like elongated S-es.  I wonder why they made them look so similar?  It’s strange, but part of the mystique.

The skull motif was quite popular and went from a more literal depiction to the stylized version on Sarah’s marker.  Here’s another example from a cemetery a few towns away.  This cemetery dates to 1740.

Winged skull

I tried to find this particular design in my guide to early American gravestone carving, but couldn’t find it mentioned specifically.  The wings are very interesting, but I don’t know what they were meant to convey.  Flying to heaven?  Angels?  Death winging the soul to the great beyond?  I have no idea, but it’s used a lot in markers from the 18th century.

As a large part of my photo collection is of grave stones and cemeteries, I’m sure I’ll be posting a Reflections on Death part 2.

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