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)

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Art of Making a Willow Weep

Forks Cemetery, Stockertown, PA  (note the two leaning obelisks)

For this blog, I wanted to add more pictures of weeping willows that I have gathered since the first Weeping Willow blog entry I did almost 4 months ago.

Weeping willows really were the most popular symbol in early to mid-19th century cemeteries.  Besides the obvious symbol of mourning that they represented...a tree that weeps right along with the human mourners...the willow also was a symbol of rebirth.  Rebirth, life after death, a point to all the sorrow that death brought to 19th-century society---these were important concepts to people then.  And a weeping willow branch can be pushed into wet ground, and it will soon root and grow and prosper.  I think of the giant weeping willow that was on the property that my parents bought when I was seven, where I grew up in Madisonville, PA.  Dad cut down the willow when I was in my teens because he was tired of raking the millions of leaves it shed every fall.  But he kept one branch and pushed it into the ground in the back corner of the property, where it always is moist and spongy.  That willow branch is more than 20 feet tall now.  I think that is why 19th-century society used the willow so freely on the tombstones of their loved ones...the rejuvenating qualities of the willow brought them comfort.  Perhaps their loved ones would find rejuvenation in the afterlife.

So here are some of my favorite examples of weeping willows.  Many are accompanied by urns or obelisks (a tall shaft with a pyramid on the top---think Washington Monument in DC). These were traditional funeral symbols in the 1800's.  Some have broken flowers at their base, some are attended by human mourners in flowing clothes, some have books next to them.  And my absolute favorites are hand-carved, without the use of steam-powered tools.  Someday I am going to find out who carved these figures on the slabs of slate that have weathered to a mottled golden brown. (The last four pictures here) To me, this is truly art.

Forks Cemetery, Stockertown, PA (leaning obelisk)

Daleville Cemetery, Daleville, PA

East Swamp Mennonite Cemetery, Quakertown, PA (a monument, angel, roses and columns)

Jerusalem Evan. Lutheran Cemetery, Sellersville, PA (angels and mourning figure)

Trumbauersville UCC, Trumbauersville, PA (monument & mourning figure)

Forks Cemetery, Stockertown, PA

Forks Cemetery, Stockertown, PA

Forks Cemetery, Stockertown, PA

Forks Cemetery, Stockertown, PA

Forks Cemetery, Stockertown, PA

Immanuel Leidy's Cemetery, Souderton, PA

Indian Creek Christ Reformed Cemetery, Indian Valley, PA

St. Peter's Union Cemetery, Hilltown, PA (lamb)

St. John's Evan. Lutheran Cemetery, Ridge Valley, PA (monument & broken rose)

Evergreen Cemetery, Gettsyburg, PA (monument)

Indian Creek Christ Reformed Cemetery, Indian Valley, PA (OMG! monument & mourning figure)

Forks Cemetery, Stockertown, PA (monument)

Forks Cemetery, Stockertown, PA (monument)

Indian Creek Christ Reformed Cemetery, Indian Valley, PA

Trumbauersville UCC, Trumbauersville, PA (monument)
Neshaminy Presbyterian, Warrington, PA (church---20th century)

South Montrose Cemetery, South Montrose, PA (monument w/ eternal flame at top)

Forks Cemetery, Stockertown, PA (obelisk)

Forks Cemetery, Stockertown, PA (obelisk & columns)

Jerusalem Evan. Lutheran Cemetery, Sellersville, PA (monument, flowers, star at top)

St. John's Evan. Lutheran Cemetery, Ridge Valley, PA (obelisk, books)

St. John's Evan. Lutheran Cemetery, Ridge Valley, PA (obelisk & books)

Old Brooklyn Cemetery, Brooklyn, PA

Old Brooklyn Cemetery, Brooklyn, PA

Old Brooklyn Cemetery, Brooklyn, PA

Pleasant Hill Cemetery, Pleasant Valley, PA

South Montrose Cemetery, South Montrose, PA

St. John's Evan. Lutheran Cemetery, Ridge Valley, PA

St. John's Evan. Lutheran Cemetery, Ridge Valley, PA

St. Peter's Union Cemetery, Hilltown, PA (flowers)

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

Trumbauersville UCC, Trumbauersville, PA (books)

Darling Cemetery, Honesdale, PA (urn)

Darling Cemetery, Honesdale, PA (urn)

Glen Dyberry Cemetery, Honesdale, PA (urn)

Hickory Grove Cemetery, Waverly, PA (urn)

Old Honesdale Cemetery, Honesdale, PA (urn)

Prompton Cemetery, Prompton, PA (urn w/heart)

South Montrose Cemetery, South Montrose, PA (urn)

Sterling Cemetery, Sterling, PA (urn)


Welsh Hill Cemetery, Clifford, PA

Wentz's UCC Cemetery, Worcester, PA


Trumbauersville UCC, Trumbauersville, PA (monument, mourning figure)

Hickory Grove Cemetery, Waverly, PA (monument)

Prompton Cemetery, Prompton, PA (broken bud and rose)

Sterling Cemetery, Sterling, PA (urn)

Zion Cemetery, Newfoundland, PA (urn w/2 hearts)

Montrose Cemetery, Montrose, PA (urn & bird)

Glen Dyberry Cemetery, Honesdale, PA (urn)
Hickory Grove Cemetery, Waverly, PA (urn)

Hickory Grove Cemetery, Waverly, PA (urn)

Marcy Pioneer Cemetery, Tunkhannock, PA (monument)

Marcy Pioneer Cemetery, Tunkhannock, PA (hand carved--urn with Masons' symbol)

Montrose Cemetery, Montrose, PA (urn)

Montrose Cemetery, Montrose, PA (urn)

Montrose Cemetery, Montrose, PA