What Do Different Emblems On Headstones Denote

The artwork and symbols that appear on headstones and tombstones often have deeper meanings. Thus, it can give a clue about the ancestors and important aspects of their lives such as religious affiliation, ethnic identity, etc.

The interpretations of certain symbols, however, may differ from one country to another. Moreover, while understanding the symbols, keep in mind that someone might have chosen a particular symbol merely being attracted by its aesthetic appeal, irrespective of its meaning.

GB 355 Deer Scene

Meanings of Headstone Symbols

  • Adam and Eve with serpent or fruit: denotes quick death
  • Anchor: symbolizes steadfastness; often used as a Masonic symbol depicting well-grounded hope
  • Alpha and Omega: As these are the first and last letters of the Classical Greek alphabet, they represent the beginning and the end.
  • All Seeing Eye with Rays of Light scattered all over: It denotes God; often used as a Masonic symbol.
  • Arch: It can be interpreted as victory over death by entering the heavens.
  • Broken Tree Trunk: denotes premature death; similarly, butterfly means early death.
  • Book: More often than not, this emblem symbolizes a holy book like the Bible or Koran. Moreover, it represents faith and open book signifies an open heart. An open book may also be considered as a symbol for deceased teacher or minister of religion. Closed book, on the other hand, may indicate a completed life.
  • Bird Flying: resurrection, flying of the soul
  • Broken Column: signifies the loss of the head of a family
  • Broken Ring: denotes severed family circle
  • Cherubs: They represent Baby Angels and are mostly found on graves of children. They are thought to be the messengers between God and man. Weeping angels symbolize grief and mourning of the ones left behind.
  • Crossed Swords: symbol for a military officer of high rank
  • Dead leaves: denote sorrow and melancholy
  • Dove: It is an emblem of love, peace, purity, and innocence
  • Dragon: signifies imperial power
  • The Fern: denotes humility, sincerity, and solitude
  • Flame: symbol of eternal life
  • Hand pointing up: signifies the pathway to Heaven (the soul has gone to the heaven)
  • Hand of God chopping: means sudden death
  • Lamb: Being a sign of innocence and gentleness of character, it is usually used on the graves of children.
  • Oak tree and leaves: strength, power, authority, and maturity; it is believed that Jesus’ cross was made from oak tree
  • Peacock: symbolizes glory, royalty, and immortality through resurrection
  • Pineapple: hospitality, prosperity, and perfection
  • Poppy: It can be interpreted as eternal sleep; fruits represent eternal plenty.
  • Rooster: signifies courage, vigilance, awakening, and resurrection
  • Rose: Rose bud (that has not opened) symbol is generally engraved on the headstone of a child (under the age of 12) whereas a full-bloom rose indicates that the deceased lived a long life. Rose is a sign of immortal love.
  • A sheaf of wheat: It denotes longevity and indicates that the deceased lived a long and fruitful life. This symbol is mostly used on the gravestones of grandparents.
  • Stripes and stars around eagle: means eternal vigilance and liberty; stars symbolize heaven, eagle symbolizes courage and generosity
  • The Star of David (also known as the Shield of David): It is a Jewish symbol denoting divine protection.
  • Stag or hart: peace, harmony; soul longing for God
  • Thistles: remembrance; when used as a Scottish symbol, thistle denotes earthly sorrows and its thorns represent Passion of the Christ
  • Three leaves or candles: Trinity
  • Tulip: love and charity
  • Winged wheel: denotes Holy Spirit
  • Wreath or Garland: symbolizes victory in death

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *