On this white-marble monument in the Oakland Cemetery at Atlanta, Georgia, memorializing the life of an infant boy just short of his second birthday, a Cherub lifts a drapery upward to reveal a coffin. The lifted curtain or drapery represents the passage from one realm to another; the veil that exists between the Earthly realm and the Heavenly one. The drapery represents the last partition between life and death. The coffin is a mortality symbol to remind the viewer that life is short and that we will all soon die.
This motif also depicts the Victorian custom of the body laying in state in the family’s parlor. It was also customary that nearly everything in the parlor would have been draped in fringed and tasseled black cloth to express the family’s mourning. The draperies would have been kept in place for quite some time even after the body was removed to the grave. This would allow the family to continue to mourn and to express their sorrow.
Son H.T. & J.V.D. Inman
Born Oct. 22, 1879
Died Oct. 11, 1881
Your collection of Cherub grave stones has been very interesting. I have one comment to make about the custom of using babies with little wings to represent a tier of angels. Because we are such visual beings–our thoughts and ideas often formed and reformed by how they are physically represented–I really find fault with these representations of powerful spirits in the form of babies with cutesy wings….it really does a lot of damage to anyone’s ability to take them seriously. Makes it hard to take the existence of a spiritual world outside our own experience as realistic when portrayed this way….I feel the same way about all those big-eyed Precious Moments statues… they make me want to throw-up!