Visit an old graveyard and you will likely see stone drapery: Draped urns, draped crosses, draped pedestals, draped columns. Sometimes drapery is swagged like window curtains to reveal an urn, flowers, or the stone’s inscription—or even nothing at all.
Drapery is understood to represent grief and mourning, but there are two richer interpretations of gravestone drapery: drapery as a shroud and drapery as a partition.
Does how the drapery is used favor one interpretation or the other? Perhaps it does.
The urn, likely a reference to the ancient Grecian funerary urn, represents the soul. Seemingly dropped casually on the urn, the drapery may represent the shroud left behind when the deceased’s soul left the body.
Drapery is also thought to be a symbol for the partition between life and death, between this life and the next. In this sense, swagged drapes can been seen as creating the opening through which the soul passes in making the transition to the next life.
Mary Tyler, Milford Center Cemetery, Union County, Ohio
Henry Filler (urn on pedestal), Evangelical Lutheran Cemetery, Perry County, Ohio
Michael Lutz, Evangelical Lutheran Cemetery, Perry County, Ohio
Mary Murphy (urn with dove), Oak Grove Cemetery, Delaware County, Ohio
Edward Evans, Oak Grove Cemetery, Delaware County, Ohio
Ann Thompson, Fletcher Chapel Cemetery, Fairfield County, Ohio
Unknown (weathered stone), Galena Cemetery, Delaware County, Ohio
Jonathan Noble, Blendon Central Cemetery, Franklin County, Ohio