Saturday, April 19, 2008

Visiting Marblehead: Mission #2

Mission #2: Document examples of decorative motifs featuring breasts/gourds.

In Graven Images: New England Stonecarving and its Symbols, 1650-1815, Alan Ludwig devotes several pages to erotic imagery on gravestones, specifically breasts that "could symbolize the Scriptures, the Church, the ministry, or the divine milk needed to nourish the soul" (155). Ludwig also quotes a spiritual poem by minister/poet Edward Taylor that makes liberal use of breast-related imagery:
Lord put these nibbles then my mouth into
And suckle me therewith I humbly pray,
Then with this milk thy Spiritual Babe I'st grow,
And these two milke pails shall themselves display
Like to these pritty twins in pairs round neate
And shall sing forth thy praise over this meate.
In Marblehead, we found several boobalicious gravestones. These include the Mary Reed stone (1712/3), the Thaddeus Ridden stone (1690/1), the Joseph Reddan stone (1708), and the Elias Henley stone (1699). My favorite was the Benjamin Hills stone (1737/8), on which the pendant-like shapes have been modified into commas and appear to dance around the border (see below).

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