Saturday 22 August 2009

Hands clasped in Memory

The other day I was thinking about hands on gravestones, sometimes pointing heavenwards or sometimes clasped. The latter can be seen in profusion in Fleetwood Cemetery in Lancashire. As is the norm with the clasped hand symbolism, one hand is female, the other male. Has anyone ever seen two male hands or two female hands on a gravestone?

I was taken with the clasped hands on the stone pictured above this post. On occasion, as with this example, a finger points down to earth. I seem to remember it indicates a continuing connection with life on earth - perhaps with one partner surviving the other? What do others think?


Gale Wall said...

Glad to see you blogging again. I too had this same question not more than two weeks ago but haven't had time to pursue it. Perhaps we should ask Richard Waterhouse? I'll point him here.

S. Lincecum said...

I have read that the hand doing the grasping supposedly passed away before the other and was leading them to Heaven. After analyzing dates on some of these I've seen, however, it was not the case. I, too, would like to know Mr. Waterhouse's opinion.

@eloh said...

It reminds me of a secret signal of somekind.

Laurie said...

Hi Gale, Thank you. A little tiring working more than two hundred miles away, but at least I have had the chance to post again . . . ! I look forward to hearing what Richard says, but in the meantime, take a look at the next post.
Best wishes

Stephanie, thanks for the info.

@eloh, good point [no pun intended]- perhaps it was?

Cathy said...

In mortuary masonry, a finger pointing downward represents the hand of the Christian God descending from heaven to claim his own. If upward, it obviously calls to heaven. On this stone, once again the male's right hand is clasping the female tightly, almost covering it - either in protection or possession but meant to symbolize faithful love. You'll notice hers is submissively still and inexpressive. Yes, I've seen rather ambiguous looking hands reaching out to each other in a civil war enclosure here in New Jersey, which was shamefully vandalized with many others - made the news some years back. Awful thing to do. Anyway, this engraving shows a chauvinistic leaning, a very common ideal for so long, that God is male therefore the man's hand is used to represent God descending from heaven as possessor of these souls, as I say. Most fascinating, thanks!

JonesMoore Studio Art, Lisa JonesMoore said...

Love hands, and cemeteries. Nice photograph!


another great post - and the use of art and words to tell a story on gravestones -

Welcome to the Graveyard Detective

An illustrated look at the World of Graveyards and Cemeteries. There are many Stories behind the Stones that Stand in them. Who knows what we might find?


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