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angel... God's messenger; heavenly guide
archway... the passage to the next life; victory
bells... tolling for the dead
Bible open... rebirth through the scriptures
birds... man's soul flies to heaven
book... Bible or book of life; knowledge
candles... life's time is snuffed out
cherubim... guardians; remember death
cock... man's fall from grace and resurrection
coffin... our final fate
crown... glory and honor; Christ is King
death's head... mortality; wings for resurrection
doves... the Holy Spirit; purity; peace; children
draperies... grief
Father time... life's time is ended; death comes
flowers... life is not permanent; sorrow
fruit... fertility and abundance; immortality
gates... eternal life
grapes & corn... blood and body of Christ
hand pointing... the soul has gone to heaven
hand down... God reaching down for the soul
hands clasped... God speed; until we meet again
handshake... God welcomes you; marriage
heart... soul triumphs over death; love; life
hourglass.. time passes
lamb... Christ; purity; gentleness; children
lily... purity; resurrection
mermaid... dualism of Christ
obelisk... memory
peacocks... eternal life
pillar... life was complete; mortality
rose... motherhood, beauty, purity
scales... life in the balance
shell... birth and resurrection
skeleton... death comes to all
skull and crossbones... mortality
skull on pillar... triumph of death
soul effigy... souls are eternal; soul's flight
tree... life and paradise
tree stump... life cut short
urn... the body dies; sorrow; occupied grave
willow... earthly sorrow; Christ's gospel
winged wheel... commerce

Carmack's book illustrates many unusual symbols. Here's an image of mine from the Oregon Trail.
Which symbols do you think are the most common in America?

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Replies to This Discussion

I must have missed your question in my first reading because I was excited about some of the meanings you had given.

I agree with Stacy that the lamb and cherub would be pretty popular. In the past few days, I have seen many angels as well.
Hello, From what I have seen in the past was Angels and yes the Lamb's for the children. I really think that the Top 40 Tombstone Symbols are a great thing to have with you when you are doing your research, Really happy to see that these were posted so we would all have a chance to take them with during our visits to the cemetery's.

Thank's Pam
I also like newer traditions, like having photographs (and sometimes audio) on the marker.
I was told hand pointing down meant person drowned after finding this in old cemetery and researching the meaning of it (as I had never seen this before). Hand pointing up would be the explanation listed. Anyone else heard of this?
God is reaching down for the soul of the dearly departed



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