A discussion forum for history enthusiasts everywhere
 
HomeHome  Recent ActivityRecent Activity  RegisterRegister  Log inLog in  SearchSearch  

Share | 
 

 Cemeteries and their symbolism

View previous topic View next topic Go down 
AuthorMessage
Caro
Censura
Caro

Posts : 1296
Join date : 2012-01-09

Cemeteries and their symbolism Empty
PostSubject: Cemeteries and their symbolism   Cemeteries and their symbolism EmptyMon 09 Dec 2019, 02:15

Some of this will read oddly as I wrote it for our own memories, but hopefully I have culled and changed it enough to be relevant here: 

The other day we went to a Heritage Rose Society day where we were shown round the graves and given explanations of the roses there, especially all the Mary Queen of Scots roses and other Scots roses – apparently the highest number of Scots roses in New Zealand and perhaps in the world. Of course Dunedin was chosen by Scottish settlers as their place of residence and the residue of their accent can be heard in Southland mostly for some reason, less so in Dunedin.


The concentration was on the roses but I was just as interested in the gravestones. I usually just enjoy the names and the stories I find in the deaths, sometimes overtly told as in the case of important residents or those put  by friends rather than relatives, sometimes implied in the number of deaths round the same time, especially of children. Oddly to us there was one Chinese grave amongst them: we are used to Chinese graves being in a spot of their own (the Chinese came here in great numbers at the time of the gold rushes and stayed on mostly as market gardeners). Apparently, we were told, wealthy Chinese would opt for a more obvious spot, but we didn't see any other Chinese graves, or any segrrgation at all; often there are sections for Protestants, Catholics, Chinese, paupers (though not so often the last one). 


This time though we concentrated mostly on the symbols and were given a pamphlet of the meanings behind these, eg lily for resurrection and purity, wheat for time often to denote old age, birds for the soul, many for resurrection or (im)mortality (angel trumpeting, scallop shell, arrows and darts, coffins, father time, hand pointing upwards, palls/drapery, pomegranate, portals, skull, sun, torch, urn). But also some for grief (weeping angel, column, rose, willow).


The roses in the Northern cemetery have been there for over 100 years, planted by family members and often struggling to survive. Since the Heritage Rose Society began their involvement in 2001, these roses have often grown huge and are flourishing. Conserving these original Memorial roses has been a major aspect of the HRS. They include Blanc Double de Coubert, which we used to have in our garden in Kaiata, Lady Hillingdon, which was in the garden at Royal Terrace, The Bishop, William Lobb and most prolific of all, Félicité Perpetué. 


The Heritage Rose Otago Society has also planted many others especially Scots roses, the main one being Mary Queen of Scots. It has been internationally recognised. Unfortunately in 2016 a disaster. About 500 roses were sprayed with herbicide, which was not the sort the council used. Some of them were able to be rescued and others of the same kind planted but some were unobtainable. 

When we were in France we visited a Roman Catholic graveyard and it was greatly decorated with all sorts of things, like angels, flowers, symbols and people. The shops nearby were selling such relics and we had never seen anything like it in NZ. 

I once read Necropolis and it mentioned the beginnings of burial practices outside churches, but generally in NZ graveyards are separate, though I have seen a personal one on a wealthy family estate, and a soldier's grave on private property. How do other countries manage burials and cremations and apart from burials at sea are there any other styles? I know of crypts but they are in churches as far as I know.
Back to top Go down
PaulRyckier
Censura
PaulRyckier

Posts : 4226
Join date : 2012-01-01
Location : Belgium

Cemeteries and their symbolism Empty
PostSubject: Re: Cemeteries and their symbolism   Cemeteries and their symbolism EmptyMon 09 Dec 2019, 23:45

Caro,

I tried to find something about graveyards and cemeteries in the world, above my own vision.

First of all I learned this evening about the difference between graveyard and cimetery
https://jakubmarian.com/difference-between-cemetery-and-graveyard-in-english/
Graveyard near a church and cemeteries bigger and independent of a church...but perhaps in my opinion one would better say "cemeteries" as "graveyard" is only for Westerners based on the Christian customs?

Although in Belgium and perhaps in other parts of the world the population becomes more and more non religious, the mores are still especially for the ceremony not that quickly changing. It is quite normal in my opinion that family wants a ceremony for their beloved ones. And I attended perhaps more than hundred, perhaps more, in my life. And I have to say even when it was as duty from the factory for people of our section, who were death, I still was always thinking and musing about the man in question and what we had experienced during our encounters in the factory, in short about the life known to me before his death and as if there was still a special link with me after his death.

The ceremonies are perhaps the same or they are perhaps less Christian nowadays in our Western world, the only one I know in that context, but for me the nowadays ceremonies are as moving as the old ones. For instance last time I saw a diapositive overflow on three screens in the funerarium about the life of the defunct one.

With family still in a cemetery, many in a graveyard, we go still every year to the place, normally on All Souls' Day, but mostly on All Saints Day. And I have to say a cemetery  has still a special atmosphere of quietness and tending to think about life (at least to me). Even in such reknown as Arlington that I visited when at Washington.
But some say that cremation is not the same as a burial, but in my opinion it is the link with your family member, which is important. Your relationship and life experience that you have shared with the defunct that is important and which will always with you in your mind independent of where or how he was burried? And anyway as it is practice nowadays you can only have a "concession" anymore for 20 or 50 years, after which the grave is removed and given to a new deceased one.

And yes as I already said, cemeteries will always be special places for remembering the death and thinking about life, and they can differ a lot allover the world and have even value as art... after all the pyramids and mound of the first Qin emperor in the Chinese landscape are also for defunct ones with a higher status than the ordinary mortals. (but for me ordinary or higher status are just the same mortals.)

I saw in a South American film I guess some rituals of coloured ribbons at stakes that were with wire connected and as it was in Spanish language I guess near a cemetery. Only to say that all over the world, perhaps in different ways, people honour their defunct ones as people all over the world have the same attitude towards their deceased family and loved ones.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cemetery

Cemeteries and their symbolism 1024px-Cemetery_in_China

click to see them all...

The following photo reminds me that I did a lot of searching in Prague to find the Jewish graveyard in I guess 1972 in the Communist time and it was exactly as I have seen it in this neglected state. I remember that I was then a bit embittered that it was not cleaned, perhaps because the Jewish Community was not allowed to do it? I wonder if this is an old photo or that the graveyard is still in this dire situation?

Cemeteries and their symbolism 800px-Old_Jewish_Cemetery%2C_Prague_047

Kind regards, Paul.
Back to top Go down
Priscilla
Censura
Priscilla

Posts : 2268
Join date : 2012-01-16

Cemeteries and their symbolism Empty
PostSubject: Re: Cemeteries and their symbolism   Cemeteries and their symbolism EmptyWed 11 Dec 2019, 16:00

Interesting info Caro of  the meaning of many symbols tho I suspect many are used without knowing what they are supposed to represent. There were once many Victorian era graves in our local cemetery with little railings and glass domed over wreathes of china flowers - mainly lilies -  that I loved to rummage about and find in the ivy but alas, vandals eventually did the same and wrecked them. I wonder if such people ever reflect on the damage they caused in youth for a laugh?

A recent visit astonished me  of stuff people were now strewing  on graves. There is almost a sense of a return to pagan rites. Coffins are now painted and decorated to relate to the person and all manner of bits left as symbolic reference to the deceased. I may be wrong but I suspect that the handling of grief is  worsening. Only  yesterday I heard of a student well into his course dropping out because his grandad died last year and he missed him. They did not even live in the same town - county, even.
As for symbols, we are today no better about fixation on them than our ancient ancestors.... just ask someone (nicely!) about their tattoos. I sense that the mystique associated with religious beliefs has been transferred into another form of pseudo spiritual linking. The urge to have individuality or group bonding recognition surely relates to the swell of population growth.

Here I am! Look at me... Look!! -I matter!!!... Mmmm.     Don't be a silly. bihch. You really don't. Once that is really,understood life is soooooo much easier!
Back to top Go down
Meles meles
Censura
Meles meles

Posts : 4157
Join date : 2011-12-30
Location : Pyrénées-Orientales, France

Cemeteries and their symbolism Empty
PostSubject: Re: Cemeteries and their symbolism   Cemeteries and their symbolism EmptyThu 02 Jan 2020, 12:44

Christmas and New Year is usually a quiet time for me and so I have been able to indulge in some intensive genealogy (necessitating the dining table to be covered with books, papers and charts for several days). Decades ago I'd carefully transcribed all the relevant inscriptions on the monuments in the churchyard of a small rural village in Sussex, and have now been interpreting these in the light of information recently obtained from documents available online. I was struck by one, major family's "box" tomb:

Cemeteries and their symbolism Tomb

The oldest inscription along one side relates to a man and his wife, who died at a good age (he at 73 in 1793, she aged 86 in 1811). He had been the village miller (inheriting the large watermill from his father earlier in the century) and which he had operated with his two sons, their respective families, plus three servants/labourers. Clearly they were a fairly prosperous family well able to afford such a grand tomb. Two other faces on the tomb record the sons and their wives. The tomb also marks a daughter and her husband (ie different surname) but what I found interesting was that the daughter's first husband was also recorded. He'd died before she did (obviously) and so he now resides in the same tomb alongside the man his widow went on to marry. All very useful for sorting out who was who, but I do wonder what the poor first husband would have thought about it.

Another thing that yet again struck me as I worked through the family's births, marriages and deaths (recorded in Parish Records) was the size of the families and also the large proportion of deaths.

@Priscilla wrote:
A recent visit astonished me  of stuff people were now strewing  on graves. There is almost a sense of a return to pagan rites. Coffins are now painted and decorated to relate to the person and all manner of bits left as symbolic reference to the deceased. I may be wrong but I suspect that the handling of grief is  worsening. Only  yesterday I heard of a student well into his course dropping out because his grandad died last year and he missed him. They did not even live in the same town - county, even.

I suspect part of the current widespread inability to deal with death and grief is that now one does not usually expect children to die before their parents or adults to die at comparatively young ages. Yet from my looking at these 18th century families, typically, of the 10 to 14 children born to a couple, three or so will die before their first birthday; another will die before adulthood; and of those that do reach maturity to marry and have children themselves, the majority will die in their fifties and sixties, leaving widows and widowers who still have some quite young children to support. While I'm sure parents truly grieved over the death of a new-born, it was nevertheless not entirely an unusual experience. Death truly was all around and a regular part of human existence.

Compare that to today when the first experience of the death of a close friend or family member may well occur when one has already out-lived most people of 200 years ago. A friend of mine lost her father a few years ago - he was just into his seventies, his daughter about 40. They were fairly close but they didn't live in the same town and only saw each other a few times a year, and she still had the support of her two brothers as well as her now-widowed mother (who seemed to cope quite well). But my friend really could not cope with his death at all. Luckily for her the company that she worked for allowed her a month's compassionate leave (on full pay) and then arranged over a year of bereavement counselling, although all this seemed to do was prolongue the grieving process. For what it's worth my partner died at about the same time, but I was just expected to get on with it (or face bankruptcy), although that too was just a few years after the deaths of my own parents and of my partner's father. Maybe I, like my 18th century ancesters, had just become used to it.


Last edited by Meles meles on Thu 02 Jan 2020, 14:04; edited 1 time in total
Back to top Go down
Temperance
Virgo Vestalis Maxima
Temperance

Posts : 6425
Join date : 2011-12-30
Location : UK

Cemeteries and their symbolism Empty
PostSubject: Re: Cemeteries and their symbolism   Cemeteries and their symbolism EmptyThu 02 Jan 2020, 13:44

MM wrote:

They were fairly close but they didn't live in the same town and only saw each other a few times a year, and she still had the support of her two brothers as well as her now-widowed mother (who seemed to cope quite well). But my friend really could not cope with his death at all. Luckily for her the company that she worked for allowed her a month's compassionate leave (on full pay) and then arranged over a year of bereavement counselling, although all this seemed to do was prolongue the grieving process. For what it's worth my partner died at about the same time, but I was just expected to get on with it (or face bankruptcy), although that too was just a few years after the deaths of my own parents and of my partner's father. Maybe I, like my 18th century ancesters, had just become used to it.


Reminds me of the old saying: "What cannot be helped must be endured." And through endurance comes - usually, but not always - resolution.

It is odd you should post the above just this week: I have been reading a book which has a chapter on grief. Under the heading "When To Let Nature Take Its Course", the author notes that in cases of loss to death, a growing body of scientific research suggests that intervention is not necessarily beneficial in all situations. Feeling intense pain is a natural occurrence when we lose someone we care about deeply; it is a testimony to the human ability to become meaningfully attached, and it is not pathological or unnatural.  Dr Tian Dayton, in her book, Emotional Sobriety: From Trauma to Resilience and Balance,  quotes a major new study entitled: "Report on Bereavement and Grief Research" prepared by the American Centre for the Advancement of Health, a study which has concluded:

A growing body of evidence indicates that interventions with adults who are not experiencing complicated grief cannot be regarded as beneficial in terms of diminishing grief-related symptoms...In fact, the studies indicate, grief counselling may sometimes make matters worse for those who lost people they loved, regardless of whether the death was traumatic or occurred after long illness, according to Dr John Jordan, director of the Family Loss Project in Boston...Further, the research suggests, bereavement counselling is least needed in the immediate aftermath of loss. Yet is then that most grieving people are invited to take part in offered services. A more appropriate time is a year to eighteen months later, if the person is still suffering intensely...

When I lost my husband (whose demise left me alone in the world, apart from a cousin in South Africa) I, like you, simply had to get on with it. I had one counselling session and was told I did not need help - I think the numbness of shock deceived utterly the woman I saw; but, that said, perhaps she was right - going back to work almost at once helped me no end, as did the ordinary kindness of friends and colleagues - and strangers.

One of the recent trends in Church services which I'm not sure is healthy is held around All Souls' Day. I went once - never again. All very Victorian and, dare I say it, maudlin and self-indulgent - candles everywhere, mournful music and  a church full of sobbing women. But perhaps I am being too hard? As Molière observed: "If you suppress grief too much, it can well redouble."

Perhaps one's howling - which is necessary and natural to us human animals - is best done in private. Mine certainly was.

Country gravestones do indeed tell stories - back later with a couple from around here - so many people who had no choice but to "cope".
Back to top Go down
Sponsored content




Cemeteries and their symbolism Empty
PostSubject: Re: Cemeteries and their symbolism   Cemeteries and their symbolism Empty

Back to top Go down
 

Cemeteries and their symbolism

View previous topic View next topic Back to top 
Page 1 of 1

Permissions in this forum:You cannot reply to topics in this forum
Res Historica History Forum :: The history of people ... :: Civilisation and Community-