Graveyard

Graveyard
Cedar Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Convoluted Convoluvus

Richlandtown Cemetery, Richlandtown, PA


“Convoluted” is one of my favorite words.  It means “complicated, twisted, coiled, and intricately involved.”  “Convoluvus” is the genus of about 200 species of flowering plants in the bindweed family Convoluvaceae.  Most of these are vines, commonly called “bindweed” for their ability to quickly bind themselves to any support, or barring that, to themselves.  The most common name for convoluvus is “morning glory,” and the ones I grow are a brilliant purple, opening in the morning and withering away by the late afternoon.  My morning glory vines twist and coil and intricately involve themselves on my porch railings, other plants and themselves when necessary.  In the picture below, you can see how they twine around themselves, creating a mighty strong “rope.”


For 19th century society, the convoluvus symbolized the Resurrection of Christ, since the flower dies on the vine in the afternoon, but by the next morning, another bloom has appeared.  Morning glories also illustrated human mortality and the brevity of life.  The Victorians, with their flair for the dramatic, also used the convoluvus to represent beauty, youth, love (because of its heart-shaped leaves) and also love in vain.  I am not sure why they felt it symbolized “love in vain,” but since the morning glory grows anywhere and everywhere, binding itself to everything it touches, and is really difficult to remove…well, the “love in vain” starts to sound to me a little like a stalker!  I guess it all depends on your perspective.

Convoluvus is a popular symbol on the graves stones in cemeteries I have visited, mostly in the mid- to late-19th century.  I really enjoy the different sculptural interpretations of the same flower.  You will notice that several of them are very similar...same tombstone shape, inverted torches at the sides, a shield at the bottom, similar convoluvus flower and vine at the top.  I think these might have been a "stock" design of a local stone carver or monument provider.  They are most common in Upper Bucks County.  I have not yet figured out who carved them and sold them.  So little time, so much research left to do......

Deep Run Mennonite East, Bedminster, PA

Deep Run Mennonite West, Bedminster, PA

Durham Cemetery, Durham, PA

Norris City Cemetery, Norristown, PA

Odd Fellows Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA (with tall calla lilies)

Pleasant Hill Cemetery, Pleasant Valley, PA

Pleasant Hill Cemetery, Pleasant Valley, PA

Pleasant Hill Cemetery, Pleasant Valley, PA

Quakertown Union Cemetery, Quakertown, PA

Ridge Valley Cemetery, Ridge Valley, PA

St. Luke Evan. Lutheran Cemetery, Ferndale, PA

St. Luke Evan. Lutheran Cemetery, Ferndale, PA

St. Luke Evan. Lutheran Cemetery, Ferndale, PA

St. Luke Evan. Lutheran Cemetery, Ferndale, PA

St. Peter's Union Cemetery, Hilltown, PA

St. Luke's UCC Cemetery, Dublin, PA

St. Peter's Tohickon UCC Cemetery, Keelersville, PA

St. Peter's Tohickon UCC Cemetery, Keelersville, PA

St. Peter's Tohickon UCC Cemetery, Keelersville, PA

St. Peter's Tohickon UCC Cemetery, Keelersville, PA

Trinity Lutheran Church, Pen Argyl, PA

Trinity Lutheran Church, Pen Argyl, PA

Evergreen Cemetery, Gettysburg, PA (with forget-me-nots)

Odd Fellows Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA (with a rose)

Durham Cemetery, Durham, PA (mixed flowers wreath--convoluvus at 3 and 8-9)

Easton Cemetery, Easton, PA (mixed flower wreath--convoluvus at 5 and 10)

Haupt Cemetery, Ambler, PA (mixed flower wreath--convoluvus at 1-2 and 10-11)

Haupt Cemetery, Ambler, PA (mixed flower wreath--convoluvus for most of it w/few roses)

St. James Cemetery, Chalfont, PA (mixed flower wreath---convoluvus at 2, 8 and 11)

St. James Cemetery, Chalfont, PA (mixed flower wreath--convoluvus at 2, 7, 10 & 11)

St. Peter's Tohickon UCCCemetery, Keelersville, PA (mixed flower wreath--convoluvus at 1,2,5,7,10,11 & 12)

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