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.
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?).
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