Thursday, July 23, 2009

Iconography and Symbolism 7/16/09

-Week 3-

The topic we studied this week had a lot to do with Stories in Stone. Over the past week I've found that gravestones seem to communicate symbolic gestures of the human condition, personal spiritual beliefs, and stories of the people who rest there. All it takes is looking at the symbols and icons of each gravestone to interpret their meaning. For example, on our walkabout we passed a gravestone with an arrow on it leading upward. I learned that this arrow is indicating a belief that one should be straight as an arrow (practice good morals) in life to ascend swiftly to God or the afterlife. Another symbol that was used on many gravestones we passed was the poppy plant. I learned that this symbol is used to portray elements of sleep and death because of the poppy plant’s natural opiate affect. Signs relating to human mortality were also present. One such icon, the hourglass, I saw on quite a few different gravestones. This I learned was a symbol of human mortality, as our lives come closer and closer to death. I feel that this is a fairly simple but powerful symbol, used on some of the gravestones, and it was interesting to see the hourglass used in different ways. One of the gravestones I saw depicted the hourglass turned sideways, indicating that time has no purpose for the person who lies beneath it anymore. One of the more remarkable gravestones we visited had a large anchor on it. I learned that this was both a symbolism for hope and was also used as a way to display the christian cross when followers did not want to be discovered. All of these symbols and icons I learned about this week, made me think a little about my own life, spirituality, and even a bit about my own mortality. Are these symbols and icons ways for the dead to speak to us? If so, it is certainly important to interpret each of the symbols’ meaning and maybe take something from it. I also was able to get a good grave rubbing from one the gravestones on our walkabout. It is a rubbing of a poppy plant and it bordered one of the gravestones I found.

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