Curious Chinese Traditions

Across central China in the remote valleys to the south of the Yangtze River, you will find the most unique burial places. The hanging coffins are suspended so high that they are often barely visible from the ground below. They have been discovered in crevices of the cliff face, anchored on limestone rock about 30 meters high (almost 100 feet), balanced on wooden cantilevered stakes, or stacked in man-made caves 300 feet up in Guizhou province, a landlocked, mountainous province in central south China.

This ‘burial’ practice was followed by Yao and Miao minorities in the region. It is believed that the higher the coffins were placed, and therefore closer to Heaven, the greater the respect of the deceased. The suspension of the coffins slowed down decomposition of the body which ensured afterlife and immortality of the spirit; and on a more practical aspect it prevented animals from poaching the bodies and kept land free to farm.

The practice of hanging coffins can also be found in the Philippines, most famously in Sagada.

Another curiosity of the Miao ethnic group is the belief in a supernatural power around them that decides their fate. The Miao worship tree spirits and equate human life cycles with those of trees. Firs are the only wood used for burial and only firs over 60 years old are large enough. Therefore, villagers plant trees for themselves and their descendants every year. New parents plant a fir sapling from which their children’s future coffin will be carved.

Following the burial another young tree is transplanted atop the grave site – this is the only marker for the deceased – transforming what should be a cemetery into a forest of trees.

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King’s Chapel Burying Ground

King’s Chapel Burying Ground on Tremont Street in Boston, Massachusetts, was dedicated in 1689 and is the oldest burying place in Boston proper. Although the cemetery is small it contains many stones going back to the 1600s. Burials ceased here in 1796.

Mark the perfect man and behold the uprights for the end of that man is peace. 1924

The cemetery is somewhat overshadowed by the church, adjacent buildings and several trees within the grounds. A bell made in England was hung in 1772 until it cracked in 1814 and was then recast by Paul Revere. It still rings before every service.

Two bronze plaques attached to the railing at the entrance of the cemetery identify some of the more famous people buried here. The burying ground was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.

In the early 1800s, many of the gravestones were moved from their original position and placed in rows, so it is impossible to tell the exact location of some of the graves. In olden times a great deal of excitement was caused by a rumor that someone had been buried alive there, but the affair ended uneventfully when the doctor who had attended the deceased testified in the matter.

To him that overcometh and keepeth my work.
To the end will I give the morning star He that dwelleth in love, dwelleth in God and God in him. 1900

Jesus, My Jesus

The figure of Jesus, as a sacred icon of the Christian church, can be found in many forms within a cemetery.

The sacred heart of Jesus

Jesus crown of thorns

The Lord Is My Shepherd

The most famous statue of Jesus is situated in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The statue at a height of 98 feet is visible from anywhere in Rio.

This profound quotation by Paul Valery, a French poet and essayist who died in 1945, still echoes true in today’s society.
Christ’s death has impressed the world more than his resurrection. 

Acronyms on Gravestones

FUGIT HORA is a Latin phrase meaning “hours are fleeting” or “time flies”.

fugit hora

TEMPUS EDAX RERUM translated from Latin means time, devourer of all things.
tempus edax

I.H.S. There are several interpretations of this symbol which contain the superimposed letters of I, H and S.

  • They represent the Greek letters Iota (Ι), Eta (Η) and Sigma (Σ), which are the first three letters of Jesus’ name in Greek (Ihsus, or Ihcuc).
  • “In His Service” or “In this sign conquer”
  • In Hac Salus – safety in this (meaning the cross)
  • Iesus Hominum Salvator (Jesus Saviour of Men).
  • “In hoc signo”, Latin for “by this sign we conquer”, referring to the cross

I.N.R.I. is often placed on a banner above the cross. They represent the first four letters of the Latin words “Jesus Nazarenus Rex Judaeorum” meaning “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.” According to John 19:19 (Bible), Pontius Pilate wrote this title, and had it placed above Christ on the cross. The sign was written in Hebrew, Greek and Latin.

O.S. These letters are displayed after the date, the acronym for’ Old Style’ refers to the Julian Calendar.

os

R.I.P. The most well-known acronym, Rest in Peace

rip 

TABLETS OF THE DECALOGUE Symbolizes the Ten Commandments on two joined tablets. It is text from the Bible given to Moses on Mount Sinai as a symbol of the Old Covenant.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

XP (CHRISMA) (CHI-RHO)

  • Chi-Rho is an ancient Christian symbol representing the Greek word for Christ – Chi (X) and Rho (P)
  • Chi-Rho symbol is also the origin of using the abbreviation Xmas for Christmas
  • The emblem came to Emperor Constantine in a dream and he used it as a military symbol. It is often seen on banners in religious processions. This symbol has been found on early Roman tombstones.

HEBREW Here Lies

Depictions in Marble and Stone

I am always awestruck by the astounding talent of artists and the intricacy of detail in statuary. Some of the most beautiful statues are found in the Cimitero Monumentale di Staglieno, an extensive cemetery located on a hillside in the district of Staglieno of Genoa, Italy. Covering an area of more than a square kilometre, it is one of the largest cemeteries in Europe and is famous for its monument sculpture.

1-Consigliere
The tomb of the Consigliere family is attended by a woman praying on her knees. The sculpture was created by Luigi Orengo who worked extensively with funerary sculpture, especially in the Cemetery of Staglieno where he created dozens of tombs and funeral graves. The mausoleum is decorated with laurel leaves representing the “evergreen” memory of the deceased, and a Greek cross with four arms equal in length which is the traditional symbol of Christian faith.

 

This sculptural group was created in bronze and Carrara marble by Mariano Benlliure. The sculpture represents the funeral procession of the famous bullfighter Joselito el Gallo. The body of the deceased is carved in marble to highlight the figure. At the head of the procession a woman carries a bronze miniature of the Virgin Macarena to whom the bullfighter was very devoted.
Cemetery of San Fernando, Seville, Spain

 

christ going to tomb
I can’t find any source information on this second representation of a funeral procession. It is recorded as ‘Christ going to the tomb’, but I have no confirmation of this data. Translation of the script reads; Proceeding towards the resurrection.
Cemetery Viersen, Germany

 

Cimitero Monumentale Di Milano
This statue depicts a WWI soldier ‘s grave. Luigi Fossati (31-1-1896 – 28-10-1918) who lost his life in the battle of Somme in the Montello hills of Italy. Translation of the dedication reads: Gloomy night enveloped the heroic soul of Luigi Fussati who experienced unspeakable torments under the red dust of the Montello.
Momma and brothers Giullo, Pietro, Giuseppe, Arialdo.
In everlasting memory.
Cimitero Monumentale, Milano, Italy.

 

cypress lawn
This large monument is the burial site of lawyer LLoyd Tevis who was also a successful American business man who headed the Wells Fargo Banking and Pony Express lines for more than 20 years. The “Tevis Cup”, an equestrian endurance ride held annually which requires riders to make the 100 mile Pony Express journey from Tahoe to Auburn in one day is named for him.
Cypress Lawn Memorial Park, Colma, CA, USA.

 

desktop-1415303001
Charles-Joseph Pigeon (29 March 1838 – 18 March 1915) became famous due to his invention and manufacture in 1884 of the Pigeon lamp, a non-exploding gasoline lamp. He commissioned the family grave sculpture to hold up to 18 family members. The sculpture is a life-sized image of Pigeon holding a notebook and pencil in his hand. An angel overlooks the vignette of him as he lays beside his wife on a bed.
Montparnasse Cemetery, Paris, France

 

Montparnasse3This marble sculpture entitled “The separation of the couple” is not a funerary monument. Until 1965 it was situated in the garden of Luxembourg and was removed because it was considered obscene. I guess they thought the dead wouldn’t mind the obscenity.
Montparnasse Cemitiere, Paris, France

 

Schaub
Heinrich Schaub, born 5 May 1843, died 29 Jan 1909
Schaub commissioned Leipzig architect Emil Franz Hänsel to design a tomb which was sculpted by Otto Wutzler and August Rantz. The monument features fluted pillars and a bronze framed bronze door. A bronze sculpture of a youth kneels in front of a door  representing the eternal kingdom of the dead.
Südfriedhof Cemetery, Leipzig. Germany

 

Staglieno
The figure which rests upon the Burrano tomb was sculpted by Piero da Verona.
Staglieno Cemetery, Genoa, Italy

Daughters of the American Revolution

The Daughters of the American Revolution was founded in 1890. Any woman 18 or older, who can prove a lineal bloodline descent from a patriot of the American Revolution, is eligible for membership. For a grave to have a marker, the markers must be officially approved.

The D.A.R. promotes patriotism, preservation of American history, and education.

D.A.R. members have placed thousands of markers at the graves of Revolutionary War soldiers, patriots, and their wives, daughters and Real Daughters; “To perpetuate the memory of the spirit of the men and women who achieved American independence by the acquisition and protection of historical spots and the erection of monuments…”

A marker for Thomas Lamoreaux’s  service in the War of 1812, was dedicated on October 29, 1932. A second marker identifies; Revolutionary War Soldier & Patriot / Thomas Lamoreux (Lamoreaux) / Ensign Orange County Militia, NY / Signed Articles Of Association / Born Circa 1745 – Died 5 October 1829 / Marker Placed By / Wyoming Valley Chapter NRDAR / 2017

John Mayo

John Mayo, the first representative from Harwich to the general court in 1711 is buried in Brewster Old Burying Ground, Barnstable County, Massachusetts, United States. Aged 70 years at the time of his death he was born in 1655 in Oyster Bay, Nassau County, New York.

His grave is marked with a table gravestone and a dedication engraved in stone which was cleaned in 2006. John Mayo / Died Feb 1, 1725 / Et. 70 Years / First Representative To The General / Court From The Town Of Harwich
Note: Old English abbreviation Et. or Aet means ‘aged’.

He was representative of the general court for six years and the town treasurer for three years.

John’s wife, Hannah Freeman, was a direct descendant of Mayflower passengers William Brewster & Mary Wentworth. Hannah was born in 1665 and died in 1743.

Hannah Mayo

Here Lyes Y Body / Of Mrs Hannah / Mayo Relict Of / Mr. John Mayo / Who Died February / Y 15th 1743 + In Y / 80th Year Of Her Age.
Translated as, Here lies the body of Mrs. Hannah Mayo widow of Mr. John Mayo who died February the 15th 1743 + in the 80th  year of her age.

Mors Ianua Vitae: Death is the gate of life