Certain symbols abound in modern Western culture that are instantly recognizable: the cross signifies Christianity, the six-pointed Star of David is revered by Jews, the golden arches frequently means it's time for lunch. Other symbols, however, require a bit of decoding-particularly those found in cemeteries. Cemeteries are virtual encyclopedias of symbolism. Engravings on tombstones, mausoleums and memorials tell us just about everything there is to know about a person- date of birth and death as well as religion, ...
Certain symbols abound in modern Western culture that are instantly recognizable: the cross signifies Christianity, the six-pointed Star of David is revered by Jews, the golden arches frequently means it's time for lunch. Other symbols, however, require a bit of decoding-particularly those found in cemeteries. Cemeteries are virtual encyclopedias of symbolism. Engravings on tombstones, mausoleums and memorials tell us just about everything there is to know about a person- date of birth and death as well as religion, ethnicity, occupation, community interests, and much more. In the fascinating new book Stories in Stone: The Complete Guide to Cemetery Symbolism by noted author Douglas Keister, the secrets of cemetery symbolism are finally revealed. For instance, did you know that it is quite rare to see a sunflower on a tombstone? Did you know that the human foot symbolizes humility and service since it consistently touches the earth? Or the humble sheaf of wheat-while it is often used to denote someone who has lived a long and fruitful life, do you know other meanings it might carry? Stories in Stone provides history along with images of a wide variety of common and not-so-common cemetery symbols, and offers an in-depth examination of stone relics and the personal and intimate details they display-flora and fauna, religious icons, society symbols, and final impressions of how the deceased wished to be remembered. Douglas Keister has created a practical field guide that is compact and portable, perfect for those interested in family histories and genealogical research, and is the only book of its kind that unlocks the language of symbols in a comprehensive and easy-to-understand manner. Douglas Keister has photographed fourteen award-winning, critically acclaimed books (including Red Tile Style: America's Spanish Revival Architecture, The Bungalow: America's Arts & Crafts Home, and Storybook Style: America's Whimsical Homes of the Twenties) earning him the title "America's most noted photographer of historic architecture." He also writes and illustrates magazine articles and contributes photographs and essays to other books, calendars, posters, and greeting cards. Doug lives in Chico, California, and travels frequently to photograph and lecture on historic architecture and photography.
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There is so much symbolism embedded in the tombstones of our ancestors; and so much that we don't even notice is there, without a guidebook to show us what we don't know to look for! This is that book. Filled with pictures and examples of the icons used in funerary art, from the simple to the complex designs incorporating multitudes of symbols intertwined into a full story of the life of the deceased, this book helps you read and tell their story.
One common motif is the weeping willow tree, which seems to suggest grief and sorrow. But the willow is one of the more common symbols used to suggest immortality. The tree is known to flourish and remain whole no matter how many branches are cut off. Frogs, however, are usually almost hidden, symbols of the Biblical plague passed on those who are unclean or possibly evil. And there's so much more!
Whether you're simply curious about what you see as you drive by, or if you're a serious genealogist looking to learn the secrets of your ancestor's life, this book is a true treasure for anyone who ever visits a cemetery. Want to know how to tell your story to future generations? This book is an endless source of how the symbolism of the tombstone can tell so much more than just the dates surrounding the "dash" that represents our lifetime.
We all get one last chance to make a lasting impression, and this is the one book to have if you want to learn to read and understand the full story in the tombstone.
Janet K. S
Jul 14, 2011
This is a must-have book for any cemetery lover. It thoughtfully and inclusively provides notes about the symbolism behind funerary art used on gravestones and monuments. I have been waiting for this book for years and am thrilled to own a copy. And I have given copies to several friends who are similarly disposed toward cemeteries.
S H W
Apr 14, 2011
A compact beautifully presented guide to the symbology found in cemeteries. A wide range of material is covered, with numerous illustrations. It is an essential handbook for anyone interested in cemeteries around the world.
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