Monday, May 4, 2009


Gravestones often feature symols that indicate rebirth, ascension, or metamorphosis. These include soul effigies, hands pointing toward heaven, and rising suns. This obelisk in Mount Auburn takes a somewhat different approach — it shows a butterfly emerging from its chrysalis.
I'm not really sure whether that flame-like thing is supposed to be a leaf or some sort of silk — maybe it is actually fire. It looks like the carver made an effort to make this image look realistic — the stick is knobby, the little leaf has veins — but I've never seen a chrysalis erupt in fire. Also, that butterfly is not exactly the most graceful, elegant butterfly I've ever seen.

1 comment:

Robert J. said...

Yes! The 1798 James Waterman stone in the Central Burying Ground on Boston Common also has a butterfly emerging from a chrysalis (complete with citations to Job on maggots and fallen trees). I took a (not very good) picture of it earlier this year on a hazy day. I'll send it to you by email. I seem to remember reading about this stone somewhere, but I can't recall where (perhaps Forbes?).