The clasping hands above represent holy matrimony. This motif symbolizes the holy union between a man and a woman. The hand on the left side of the motif is clearly the hand of the female, her cuff is lace and ruffle. The hand on the right side is the male’s, with a shirt’s cuff complete with a cuff link shown from underneath a suit jacket.
This pair of clasping hands, even though, there is clearly a female and a male hand, represents the brotherhood of the union. It symbolizes the brethren of workers clasped in the making of something together, sharing their labor bonded by common work. This carving is found on the Bedford Stonecutters Association Monument in the Green Hill Cemetery in Bedford, Indiana, the heart of the Indiana limestone stonecutting industry.
The clasping hands from this gravestone is on the grave of a brother and sister which is faintly indicated in the cuffs, the hand on the left has scolloped cuffs, while the hand on the right has cuffs that are straight punctuated by a large round masculine button. Clearly this does not represent holy matrimony. This is the end of their young lives and depicts a farewell handshake to their life on earth. It also represents the welcome to Heaven, leaving behind what they have known on earth for the sublime pleasures of Heaven.
Often this motif is shown with gender neutral hands with no indication of male or female on the cuffs.