Tree-stump open book

Forest Home Cemetery, Forest Park, Illinois

Forest Home Cemetery, Forest Park, Illinois

Tree stump tombstones, generally carved from limestone, were a part of the rustic movement of the mid-nineteenth century which was characterized by designs that were made to look like they were from the country. The gravestones are purposefully designed to look like trees that had been cut and left in the cemetery which was part of the movement to build cemeteries to look like parks. In funerary art, the tree-stump tombstones were varied—the stonecutters displayed a wide variety of carvings.

The tree-stump gravestones themselves were imbued with symbolism. The short tree stump often marks the grave of a person who died young—a life that had been “cut” short.  There is an ivy trailing up the front of the stump.  The ivy represents friendship and, like many symbols found in the cemetery, immortality.

This example is topped with an open book. The open book is a fairly common symbol found on gravestones. The motif can represent the Book of Life with the names of the just registered on its pages. This book, like any book in a cemetery, can also symbolize the Word of God in the form of the Bible.

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