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Grave Art

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The "domestication of death" that characterized 19th century attitudes toward death and the afterlife is visible in Oaklawn's memorial statuary and grave art. Some typical motifs are:

  • The broken column, suggesting a life cutoff
  • Recumbent lambs, especially on children's graves, symbolizing innocence
  • The draped urn, referencing both ancient burial practices and the veil between life and the afterlife
  • The sheaf of wheat, denoting a fruitful life and/or the harvest of souls
  • The rose, frequently seen on women's graves, expressing purity and fragility
  • The weeping willow, a marker of immortal life
  • Ivy vines, representing immortality and fidelity
  • Fraternal emblems or mottos, indicating the decedent's membership in Freemasonry, Woodmen of the World, Elks, or the American Legion.

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