Gravestone Iconography

I found a decent paper on gravestone imagery and a few other sites as I explored around. There are quite few people interested in gravestones. I figured I’d create a little mini-guide using the images I’ve taken at Hollywood Cemetery. It’ll likely make sense to do something more formal later on but doing elements of possible future student work helps me work through things.


Clasped Hands

The “handshake” on the grave can mean different things. In this case you’ll notice that the sleeve on the right is feminine and the one on the right is masculine. This tends to mean a husband and wife joined in life and death.

Three Chain Links

This one is often a Masonic symbol or the Independent Order of Odd Fellows (new to me). I had thought it was something to do with the Father/Son/Holy Ghost.


Fannie A. Bouis
It is interesting to think of flowers of symbols of short life. It bring a new perspective on their use at funerals.


While it looked like a dollar sign to me initially . . . IHS are the first three letters of the Greek word for Jesus and may also represent hoc signo vinces (in this sign you will conquer) or Iesus Hominum Salvator (Jesus, savior of men).

The Dove

SA Lacy
A symbol of peace and rebirth.

Southern Cross of Honor


I managed to find this one by searching for “wreath inside a cross” grave . Search really is pretty impressive.


Represents eternal life because it’s green all the time and hard to kill.

Palm Frond

J. T. Whitlock
Triumph over death with an homage to the Romans.