The Circle of Life in a Wagon Wheel


Bohemian National Cemetery, Chicago, Illinois

Bohemian National Cemetery, Chicago, Illinois

In funerary art, tombstones took on the look of tree stumps during the rustic movement. The gravestones were purposefully designed to look like trees that had been cut and left in the cemetery to mark a grave. Most of these tree-stump tombstones were carved from limestone, which is easier to carve, though some are made from marble and even a few from granite. Thousands of tree-stump tombstones exist in nearly as many designs. The creativity of the carvers was boundless. These type of gravestones were most popular for a twenty-year period from 1885 to 1905.

Many symbols, like the hanging and broken bud, the broken column, and the broken wheel represent the end of life’s journey.  In this case, even the gravestone itself, the tree-stump, symbolizes a life cut short.  This gravestone in Bohemian National Cemetery at Chicago, Illinois, is carved in limestone in the likeness of a tree with a wagon wheel leaning against the bottom of the tree.

With a closer look at the wagon wheel one can see that the circle is incomplete at the top.  The wheel, in this case, is a metaphor for the circle of life which is broken by death.


This entry was posted in Symbolism, Treestump gravestones. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to The Circle of Life in a Wagon Wheel

  1. Wow what a surprise We went to the bohemian national cemetery today looking for my. Grandfathers grave. We found it ,took pictures and came home to look up the meaning of the tombstone. We found your link and to our amazement the pics above are of my grandfathers tombstone. Awsume. Thanks

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s