EXHIBITS

Symbols

Clasping hands, headstone, Logan city cemetery

Clasping Hands 

Clasping hands can have many meanings, but the most common interpretations are remembrance of the affection between two people, commonly husband and wife or mother and child. Guidance by a deceased partner who is leading the newly dead into everlasting life may also be symbolized with clasping hands. Yet another interpretation is the hand of God welcoming the newly deceased into heaven and eternal everlasting life. 

Cherub
(Utah State University, Merrill-Cazier Library, Special Collections & Archives, Folklore Collection 035a Box 1 1985-001-001.)

Wreath of Laurel 

The laurel wreath is a common symbol usually associated with eternity of the human soul and life everlasting. This symbol can also mean victory of life over death, immortality, or the deceased reaching heaven.

LDS temple symbol on headstone

Latter-day Saint Temples

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ temples are a fairly recent symbol to headstones. Due to the intricacy of the image, it was rarely used until the 1960s, when sandblasting and air-powered chisels made it easier to replicate. Today the temple symbol is common in cemeteries throughout Utah. The symbol of the temple is used to mark the graves of faithful members of the Church and to reinforce the idea of eternal life and eternal families.    

Open book and draped cloth, headstone, Logan city cemetery

Open Book and Draped Cloth

Open books have many meanings. The book can be a religious tome such as the Bible, Koran, or Book of Mormon. Likewise, it may indicate the deceased’s beliefs or vocation. An open book can also signify the “Book of Life” and the belief that the deceased will have their name contained therein, thus ensuring them everlasting life in heaven. Another interpretation of an open book is the deceased’s eagerness to learn new or interesting things in life. The book may also signify the deceased’s pure life and be a record of accomplishment.

Draped cloth symbolizes the veil that separates life and death. In this case, the drapery is over a book symbolizing a life cut short.

Logan cemetery headstone, 8

Lamb

The lamb often refers to the Lamb of God, gentleness, and purity. This symbol may also mean the innocence and purity of a child.

The Squires Headstone
(Utah State University, Merrill-Cazier Library, Special Collections & Archives, Folklore Collection 035a Box 1 1985-001-001.)

The Squires Headstone 

The Squires headstone possesses many symbols. Note the archway at the top of the headstone. The keystone is missing, sometimes symbolizing a life cut short or unfinished. Lilies partially surround the name. The symbol of lilies is usually associated with purity or beauty. The pathway of cobbles leads to the pearly gates which are opened for the deceased to enter.

Each symbol can take on many meanings. The interpretation is in the eye of the beholder as well as in the skilled hands of the engraver.