There are sometimes hands in different postures or hearts on graves. These signs are rarer. They are mostly made up of hands pointing up symbolizing a pathway to heaven, or hands praying asking God for eternal life. Another sign is hands clasped showing farewell to their loved ones. Other things that fall under this category are joined hearts symbolizing marriage.

Animals often show up on graves. Most signs are butterflies symbolizing the resurrection or Christian metamorphosis. Doves symbolize innocence or peace, lambs represent the same thing but are mostly found on children’s graves. Lions represent courage and bravery. Finally Roosters show waking up in heaven.

Objects are important when it comes to symbolism. Flames and Ivy often means immortality. Horns and crosses equal the resurrection. The other common sign is a wreath showing saintliness or victory in death. Angels show triumph in rebirth. An ark symbolizes the church. Armor is believed to give people protection from evil. Darts show mortality. Finally a column means sorrow.

A lot of people like to show their occupation on graves. Bible mean they were ministers. A corn stalk or flail shows that that person was a farmer. Crossed Swords show that they served in a war. Teachers usually put books on their graves. Gardeners have rakes. Anchors symbolize sails men.

Latin Phrases sometimes appear on tombstones. INRI, which is commonly found on the crucifix, means Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews. Fugit Hora means time flies, or hours are fleeting. IHS means Jesus, Savior of Man. XP, or Chi and Rho, are the first two letters in the Greek word for Christ. Memento mori means remember death. Tempus erat means time has run out, or time is gone.



Reid, Pamela. "Cemetery Symbolism." Ancestry Magazine Vol. 18 no. 59/1/2000 1. 23 Jan 2007 <http://www.ancestry.com/learn/library/article.aspx?article=2977&o_xid=0039826023&o_lid=0039826023>.

LaChiusa, Chuck. "Cemetery Symbols." Buffalo as an Architectural Museum. 2002. Chuck LaChiusa. 30 Jan 2007 <http://freenet.buffalo.edu/bah/a/forestL/symbols/index.html>.