Body Symbolism

Hands – The use of hands in some form is very common on grave memorials.

A hand holding a heart is symbolic of charity and is common on 19th century memorials. It is typically seen on memorials of members of the Independent Order of Oddfellows.

During the 1800s, another common motif was the clasped hands with an incised “Farewell” below the hands. At first glance, these hands all seem to be in the same fashion but a number of interesting characteristics stand out. First, most of the hands illustrate the right hand in a grasp with fingers overlapping the other hand while the left hand is open. This could be the depiction of a man holding a woman’s hand. Another variation has the right hand with one finger pointing downward. It is possibly a depiction of a secret Masonic handshake. Clasped hands are symbolic of a farewell or last goodbye but there are perhaps more meanings to clasped hands as reflected in the varieties of this motif.

The Eye of God/All-Seeing Eye – The Eye of God or the All-Seeing Eye symbolizes the all-knowing and ever-present God. During the Renaissance period in Europe, it was common to illustrate the Eye of God surrounded by a triangle (the Holy Trinity). The eye within the triangle, surrounded by a circle and radiating rays of light is used to symbolize the holiness of the true God.