I recently took some pictures in an old cemetery and found the statuary both beautiful and sad. I preferred the grave statuary to blocky tombstones.
A tombstone is a fitting symbol for death. It is an impersonal, abstract representation of death. The angular shape suggests annihilation and oblivion. Gravestones are rock, and stone is similar to bone. Stones could be called the bones of the earth. Rock is an apt symbol for the skeleton. Both rock and death are permanent.
Statues in cemeteries bring the illusion of life to stone. A statue seems to say death is not oblivion. Giving human form to stone hints we endure beyond death. It is a more hopeful symbol then just a square block marking the deceased’s location. Statuary suggests the immortality of the human personality. Statues are an act of creativity that endures beyond death. I prefer that symbolism!
In this cemetery I noticed statues of female angels, mourning women and children. I did not see statues of adult male figures. What could this mean? I’d guess society thinks the female is considered more emotional then the male and is a better symbol for mourning. Men are not supposed to cry, and a statue of a man mourning might be considered an uncomfortable symbol of weakness. It is curious how culture influences even grave statuary.